Duterte’s Anti-Terrorism Bill gains nod among LGU’s

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DAVAO CITY — Despite strong opposition among lawyers and civil rights advocates, different local government units especially those which the government considers hostile areas, have expressed support to the proposed Anti-terrorism Bill, which is now in the hands of President Rodrigo Duterte for signature.

Duterte himself encouraged the passage of the bill citing its need to spur economic growth and provide investor confidence against so-called terrorist groups.

The Anti-Terror Bill seeks to repeal Republic Act 9372 or Human Security Act of 2007.

But Lawyer and Civil Rights advocates said amending the 2007 Human Security Act (HAS) could increase rights abuses in the country.

Those opposed questioned the timing of the legislation as the nation faces the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The bill has been submitted to Malacañang and Duterte has until July 9 to approve or veto the bill under the country’s constitution. If the president chooses to remain silent, the bill will lapse into law.

LGU Support

The local government units especially those who have experienced terrorism in their localities see the anti-terror bill as a cure pill to their people’s agony.

Davao Del Norte Governor Edwin I. Jubahib said: “We are supporting the bill because we need it to protect our people against the threat of terrorism. The people of my province has a long history of pain, agony, and even death in the hands of the terrorist, we cannot have investor confidence if our people live in fear and in threat. We have had enough-we need it to promote economic growth and provide our people the emotional and security comfort.”

Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang said the bill is there “Ensuring the safety and well-being of the Filipino people. It is an agenda that cannot be ignored and postponed. The Anti-Terrorism Bill shall enable the government to implement vital measures against terrorism and shall sustain our gains toward peace and development. Only the indifferent and the terrorist-sympathizers will oppose the Anti-Terrorism Bill”.

Town officials of Rajah Buayan in Maguindanao have voiced support to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, saying the measure would bring peace in their communities that have experienced terrorist attacks in the past.

“We have experienced terrorism right in our doorsteps, it claimed lives of innocent civilians,” the manifesto added, referring to atrocities conducted by Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Rajah Buayan and nearby Moro communities.

“We support this bill because we are convinced it will put an end to terrorist actions that had long been sowing fear among our people, especially in remote areas,” the Rajah Buayan Municipal Peace and Order Council (MPOC) said in a manifesto released Friday that was signed by Mayor Yacob Ampatuan, Vice Mayor Sittie Jin Princess Lumenda, and other MPOC members.

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella said “Being better equipped should not only involve guns and artillery. It should likewise come in laws and policies that support our law enforcement agents and military personnel in preventing possible attacks”. 

The Cordillera Administrative Region Peace and Order Council (RPOC) on Friday passed a resolution supporting the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Bill 2020. “We are in full support to the passage of the law,” Cordillera RPOC Chairman and Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong said, the later is a former top police officer.

The resolution states  “When approved, it will give Philippine authorities a much-needed legal backbone to support the criminal justice system in preventing terrorism and preserving those who are involved in terror acts to address the evolving terrorist threats and ever-changing targets of the terrorists in perpetrating insidious acts.”

Penal clause

Under the bill, persons who voluntarily and knowingly join any organization, association, or group of persons knowing that such is a terrorist organization, will suffer imprisonment of 12 years.

Suspected persons can be detained for 14 days without a warrant of arrest with an allowable 10-day extension; 60-day surveillance on suspected terrorists can also be launched by the police or the military, with an allowable 30-day extension.

Meantime, a broad alliance of civil rights and church organizations consider the anti-terror bill as flawed, and, have likened it with the knee of a brutal police officer of Minneapolis that murdered George Floyd. Hence, they call for broader solidarity among sectors to halt the bill’s approval. –Editha Z. Caduaya/Newsline

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