MANILA – More local government executives express backing on the proposed anti-terrorism bill, Quirino Governor and Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) president Dakila Cua said Wednesday.

“Informally, napag-uusapan sa mga chat groups, nag-uusap-usap na para bang ano ba ‘yung tingin nyo diyan (this is being discussed informally, on what they think about the bill). I think in general I would say about 80 percent are supportive, mas maraming nakakakita ng value to anti-terrorism bill (most of the local executives see the value of the anti-terrorism bill),” Cua said in an interview.

Cua, who heads ULAP, an umbrella organization of leagues of local government units (LGUs) and locally elected government officials, however, said some executives have reservations with the measure while others think that it still needs improvement.

While he understands the apprehensions of some people on the measure, Cua said any law may be subjected to abuse, even the simplest ones such as traffic laws, but that the government does its best to serve and protect the people.

“Siguro kung wala ka namang gagawing related sa mga terrorist movement wala ka naman sigurong dapat ikabahala (Maybe if you are not doing anything related to the terrorist movement, then there is nothing to fear). I think there are enough safeguards in our system, not only in this law but in other laws,”said Cua, also former Quirino representative.

Cua said the bill is widely talked about because it is relevant to the times, citing terrorist attacks all over the world, and various governments, including the Philippines, try to address the problem and create measures to protect the people.

The government must have the means and the capability to preempt, act accordingly, and secure our people.

“Sa tingin ko kasi bilang isang governor, importante that the government has the means to act when it has to act. Hindi pwedeng lampa ang gobyerno na anjan na yung krisis di pa sya makagalaw. Di pwede na sa ganitong klase ng sitwasyon lalo na kung maramihang buhay na ng ating kababayan ang pinag-uusapan , kailangan mabigyan ng kakayahan ang gobyerno na mag preempt o ma prevent ang mga terrorist attacks against our people (I believe that as a governor, it is important that the government has the means to act when it has to act. The government should not be weak when there is already a crisis and the government could not do anything. The government must have the means to preempt or prevent terrorist attacks against our people),” Cua said.

If terrorist attacks and threats were not present, he said, then we do not need an anti-terror law.

Cua said at this point, it is undeniable that terrorist attacks threaten public security and human lives.

“I understand that there are some worries, some concerns, nauunawaan natin yan,(we understand that) but then again kung ako ang tatanungin mas mabuting may kakayanan ang gobyerno na maging (For me, it is better that the government has the capability to be) preemptive and preventive in terms of terrorist attack,” he said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed that a copy of the bill was transmitted to Malacañang on Tuesday and that the legal department of the Office of the Executive Secretary has started reviewing its provisions.

In light of questions on President Rodrigo Duterte’s move to certify the bill as urgent amid the coronavirus pandemic, he pointed out that “terrorists did not stop their nefarious activities” amid the health crisis.

Roque cited the recent attacks launched by alleged members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao and the Abu Sayyaf Group in Patikul, Sulu, and various instances where communist rebels attacked soldiers assisting aid distribution. (PNA)

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