Pres Duterte to either sign anti-terror bill or allow it to lapse

President Rodrigo R. Duterte will either sign or allow the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 to lapse into law, Malacañang said on Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the President only has two options to make once the measure reaches his desk.

“Let’s just say that there’s a possibility that the President will take steps for the bill to become a law, either by signing it or letting it lapse into a law,” Roque said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel’s Headstart.

He, however, said that the Office of the Executive Secretary, particularly the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs, is still finalizing their inputs for submission to the President.

The Office of the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and the Department of Justice have already submitted their feedbacks.

“He (the President) did not mention that it is already (on) his desk. He would have mentioned it yesterday (Tuesday),” Roque said, pointing out that Duterte’s schedule for Tuesday was “jam-packed.”

On Tuesday night, Duterte was busy meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

In the same meeting, he announced new quarantine classifications nationwide.

“I think if he had signed it, he would have said so. So I take it that the memorandum from the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs has not reached his office,” Roque said.

During the 36th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit last Friday, Duterte emphasized the need to continue the implementation of tougher measures to combat terror acts.

He lamented that terror groups seem to be unfazed by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak as they continue to wreak havoc in other parts of the world.

Following the neutralization of four terrorists in Parañaque, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said the incident highlights the need to sign and expedite the implementation of the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 to beef up measures against terrorism.

Under the measure, the detention of suspected terrorists for up to 24 days sans a warrant of arrest will be permitted. It also allows a 60-day surveillance with an allowable 30-day extension that can be conducted by the police or the military against the suspected terrorists.

The bill also imposes a 12-year jail term on a person who voluntarily or knowingly joins a terrorist organization.

Some lawmakers and human rights groups have opposed the measure, saying it would stifle dissent. (PNA)

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