MANILA – A total of 784 local chief executives have expressed support for the bill that is meant to beef up the country’s law against terrorism, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

Citing Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said 43 governors, 68 city mayors, and 673 municipal mayors have backed the anti-terror bill.

Roque did not identify the local chief executives during the virtual presser aired over PTV-4 but thanked them for their support.

Earlier, Año said the anti-terror bill is not anti-human rights and, in fact, it seeks to protect the rights of innocent people from terrorists.

“The anti-terrorism bill aims to eradicate terrorism from our country. The people have nothing to fear from this bill; it is only the terrorists and their supporters who should fear it,” he said in a statement.

The bill is now up for the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte after being transmitted to his office on Tuesday.

Duterte can either sign the measure, which he certified as urgent, into law, veto it, or let it lapse into law after 30 days of receipt without signing it.

President ‘inclined’ to sign bill

In an interview over CNN Philippines on Tuesday morning, Roque said Duterte is “inclined” to sign the bill into law.

“He spoke and rhetorically he said he was waiting for Senator (Panfilo) Lacson to finish his commas and his periods. But that was rhetorical because, of course, the enrolled bill is now in his desk. So, let’s just say that he’s taking a final look at it but I think he is inclined to sign it,” he said.

Later on, in a virtual presser, Roque clarified that the enrolled bill is still being reviewed by the Office of the Executive Secretary.

“Bagamat nasa Malacañang na ang anti-terror bill, siguro po pinag-aaralan pa ng Office of the Executive Secretary ang sinumiteng panukalang batas dahil wala pa po mismo sa lamesa ng Presidente (Even if the anti-terror bill has been transmitted to Malacañang, perhaps the Office of the Executive Secretary is still studying the proposed law because it has yet to reach the President’s table),” he said.

Besides Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, the deputy executive secretary for legal affairs and the chief presidential legal counsel are also tasked to review the provisions of the proposed anti-terrorism bill.

“Hindi pa siguro niya nakikita or hindi pa po naita-transmit sa kanyang lamesa for signature ng Office of the Executive Secretary ang anti-terror law (Perhaps he has not seen it yet or the Office of the Executive Secretary has not yet transmitted it to his table for signature),” Roque said.

The anti-terrorism bill seeks to amend and improve the provisions of the Human Security Act of 2007. It allows the detention of suspected terrorists for up to 24 days sans a warrant of arrest.

The bill also permits a 60-day surveillance with an allowable 30-day extension that can be conducted by the police or the military against the suspected terrorists.

A person who voluntarily or knowingly joins a terrorist organization will also face a 12-year imprisonment.

To allay fears of abuse, the Commission on Human Rights will be notified in case of the detention of a suspected terrorist. (PNA)