By Chito Chavez
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año on Wednesday said he fully supports President Duterte’s move to certify to Congress as urgent the proposed enactment of the Anti-Terrorism Bill of 2020.
Año said the proposed law “has more teeth to address the acts and threats of terror (and) enough measures to guard against abuse”.
Año cited the importance of its approval saying the people “had witnessed how acts of terrorism cultivated oppression and birthed injustices throughout the archipelago’’.
He said that terroristic acts “have caused indefinite delays in the development of infrastructures that should have stimulated the local economy and have disrupted programs which were intended to provide for the basic needs of peace-loving Filipinos’’.
A former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Año said the objective of the Anti-Terrorism Bill of 2020 “is to preserve our sovereignty, promote peace, and ensure the safety of the people’’.
Once the bill is passed into law, Año noted the government will become more capable and more earnest in seeking out individuals and groups that threaten our peaceful way of life, and put them all to justice.
He assured that the Anti-Terrorism Bill will not infringe the human rights and would only address the problem of terrorism.
“The bill, as it becomes a law, will not curtail the freedom of speech and expression contrary to the claims of the other groups’’, Año insisted.
“There is not a single article or section in this bill that diminishes the constitutionally-granted right to free speech and expression, or the right to a free press,” he added.
In February, the Senate passed Senate Bill 1038 or proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 on third and final reading.
Two committees at the House of Representatives approved their version of the measure, which is similar to the Senate version on Friday (May 29).
The proposed law provides that persons who voluntarily and knowingly join any organization, association, or group of persons knowing that such is a terrorist organization, shall suffer imprisonment of 12 years.
Suspected persons can be detained for 14 days without a warrant of arrest with an allowable 10-day extension.
A 60-day surveillance on suspected terrorists can also be conducted by the police or the military, with an allowable 30-day extension.
The use of videoconferencing for the accused and witnesses will also be allowed.
To allay concerns of abuse, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will be notified in case of detention of a suspected terrorist.