Public interest prompts closer review of Anti-Terrorism bill – Palace

Published June 10, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

The public can expect that President Duterte will review the Anti-Terrorism Bill even closer following the overwhelming opposition to the measure for provisions that supposedly violate human rights, Malacañang said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after confirming that Malacañang had already received a copy of the controversial bill on Tuesday.

In an interview with ANC on Wednesday morning, Roque said that while President Duterte agrees that the bill was needed, the Chief Executive will surely scrutinize it due to public interest.

“The President did certify this as urgent so he agrees with the principal author of the bill, Senator Ping Lacson, that there is a need for the law. But let’s just say that the public interest on the bill will make the President review the provisions of the bill even more closer,” he said.

According to Roque, the Office of the Executive Secretary (OES) was already working on taking the bill to Duterte who is still in Davao since last week.

“I’m sure the legal department of the Office of the Executive Secretary is already at it and scrutinizing the provisions of the bill,” he said.

DOJ’s role

Roque said the recommendation of the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the bill will play a big role in Duterte’s decision.

“I think it’s very very influential because the DOJ is still legal adviser of the President even if he has his own legal office in Malacañang,” he said.

“As a matter of course, the President will not automatically sign a law. It is scrutinized,” he added.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the DOJ would need about 15 days for its own review of the proposed law. He said they will focus on issues of constitutionality. The public has been opposing the passage of the bill due to concerns it might lead to abuse and rights violations.

READ MORE: DOJ to finish review of Anti-Terrorism bill in 15 days

Now that the copy of the measure is with Malacañang, President Duterte has 30 days to review it and whether to sign it into law or veto it. His failure to act on it during the said period would mean that the bill will automatically lapse into law.

Timing

Meanwhile, Roque said the bill was necessary due to the “nefarious activities” of terrorists in Mindanao while the country was busy addressing the threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“The reason is clear: They did not stop and they’re taking advantage of COVID-19 to instill further fear amongst the people,” he said.

“Remember that on 27th May, 6,000 residents had fled their homes in Maguindanao because of terrorist acts. It Patikul, Sulu in June there were also attacks leading to four deaths and sixteen wounded. Prior to that, there were instances where soldiers who were securing DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) officials distributing the ayuda (cash aid) were attacked,” he added

Roque likewise reiterated that the Anti-Terrorism Bill was not rushed in Congress. He said the bill was already approved in the Senate and President Duterte certified it as urgent to prompt the House of Representatives to work on it.

However, he said the measure would have been passed in both houses even without the certification as it was backed by the administration.

“With or without certification, I think, any legislative initiative supported by the administration would find better chances of being passed in the House than in the Senate,” Roque said.

“So in this instance, the certification was not because of the Senate. It was to prompt the House to do it,” he added.

Roque earlier said that the certification of a bill as urgent does not mean that President Duterte will automatically sign it into law.

In July last year, President Duterte decided to veto the Security of Tenure Bill a few days before it lapses into law because it supposedly “unduly broadens the scope and definition of prohibited labor-only contracting, effectively proscribing form of contractualization that are not particularly unfavorable to the employees involved.” (Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos)

 
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