By Genalyn Kabiling
Malacañang has assured the public that there is “no draconian provision” in the proposed tougher law to combat terrorism in the country.
In the face of mounting concerns from groups that the bill may curtail civil liberties, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque explained in a press conference aired on government television that the proposed amendments to Republic Act No. 9372 or the Human Security Act are patterned after the anti-terror laws of other countries to effectively combat terror threats.
Roque noted that the country’s present anti-terrorism law is actually one of the most lenient compared to similar laws enforced in other countries.
He said the amendments in the Human Security Act are based on the laws existing in countries like England, the United States, Europe, and Australia.
“Wala naman pong draconian na provision dyan. Lahat ng proibisyon diyan ibinase sa batas ng mga iba’t-ibang bansa na mas epektibo ang pagtrato diyan sa mga terorista (There is draconian provision there. All provisions are based on the laws of other countries that are effective in dealing with terrorists),” he said.
In defending a stronger anti-terror law, Roque recognized that the country is “not a stranger” to terrorism, citing the 2017 attack in Marawi City and the atrocities committed by the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu.
“Alam ko po panahon ng COVID pero itong mga bills naman pong ito ay naisampa na nung 17th Congress pa, hindi lang naisabatas nung 17th Congress (I know it is the time of COVID-19 but these bills were filed during the 17th Congress but weren’t passed into law during the 17th Congress),”he said.
President Duterte recently certified as urgent House Bill No. 6875 to facilitate its swift passage in Congress. In his letter to Congress leaders, Duterte said the measure seeks “to address the urgent need to strengthen the law on anti-terrorism in order to adequately and effectively contain the menace of terrorist acts for the preservation of national security and the promotion of general welfare.”
Under the bill, authorities may detain a terror suspect without a warrant of arrest for 14 days, The current law only allows detention for three days.
The same measure also proposed that any person who threatens to commit terrorism and those who will propose any terror acts or incite others to commit terrorism will be jailed for 12 years.