AFP and PNP: Anti-terror bill protects country, people

Published June 4, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Aaron Recuenco

The Philippine National Police regards the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 as an essential tool for the government to protect itself and the people from continuing threats of bombing and similar violent attacks both globally and in the country.

PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa (PNP / MANILA BULLETIN)
PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa

In supporting Senate Bill 1083, PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa cited several terror acts in the past that include the September 2001 attack in the United States and the July 2005 terror attack in London.

In the Philippines, he cited the Rizal Day bombing in 2000 and the recent Marawi City siege in 2017.

“In situations when the very existence of democratic institutions is threatened, government can always invoke the right of the state to protect itself,” said Gamboa.

“This Anti-Terrorism legislation is a just and valid exercise of that right of the state to protect itself and its people,” he added.

Gamboa argued that the Philippine government could not just sit back and ‘be sorry’ later, noting that the possibility of terror attacks is real in the Philippines.

“We can only say ‘better safe than sorry’ even if we are the latest country in Asia-Pacific to pass a law that criminalizes terrorism. But definitely there ought to be a law,” said Gamboa.

Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said that the new anti-terror law is not substantially different from what the police and the military have been enforcing under the original law.

“From what has been reported to me so far, nothing in the enrolled bill to be sent to the President for his consideration adds any new power to the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” said Arevalo.

“We reserve further comment until the proposed legislation is signed into law by the President and the IRRs are out so we can study the law and the how’s of its implementation,” he added.

Opponents of the new anti-terror law has been criticizing the government for what they claimed to be misplaced priority as the country is still battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead of prioritizing the bill which President Duterte certified as urgent, they said the government should just focus in containing the spread of the coronavirus, what with the continuous rise in the number of infections.

Lawyers and other personalities that include former Miss Universe winners Pia Wurtzbach and Catriona Gray, and even international singing star Taylor Swift, have voiced their opposition to the enactment of a new Anti-Terror Law.

Netizens, on the other hand, said that the new anti-terror law could be used to stifle the freedom of speech amid the criticisms in the social media on how the government has been responding to the COVID-19.