MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson has criticized a United Nations official for urging President Rodrigo Duterte not to sign the controversial Anti-Terrorism Bill.
In a statement, Lacson expressed doubt that UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet actually read the provisions of the measure which seeks to strengthen the country’s campaign against terrorism.
Bachelet, in a speech during the 44th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Tuesday, asked Duterte not to sign the bill, warning that its passage heightens concerns on the blurring of important distinctions between criticism, criminality and terrorism. She also warned of the measure’s potential “chilling effect” on humanitarian and human rights work.
Lacson questioned Bachelet’s statement since the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 was crafted based on the guidelines and standards set by the United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC) Resolution 1373.
“It was the UN that prodded the Philippines to strengthen its laws against terrorism. So, is this the United Nations going up against the United Nations?” the senator asked.
“The problem with the critics of the Anti-Terrorism Bill like the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights and the others is that they criticize without even reading the bill itself,” he added.
Lacson said that Bachelet and others opposing the measure are only “jumping into the wagon of criticisms” and have let themselves be influenced by the “avalanche of misinformation” about the bill.
“There are people, learned as they are, merely jumped into the wagon of criticisms without thoroughly reading and understanding the provisions under the proposed measure,” he said.
“All the misinterpretations and misconceptions triggered by an avalanche of misinformation and disinformation that dominated the mainstream and social media platforms have unduly influenced their thinking,” he added.
Congress passed the Anti-Terrorism Bill despite oppositions from various groups.
Some people have been campaigning for the junking of the bill, which they claim can be used to silence the critics of the Duterte government.
Lacson, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, has repeatedly stressed that the bill seeks to stop terrorism and protect people from terrorists.
He also underscored that there is a difference between the “designation” of terrorist individuals, groups, organizations/associations, and “proscription” of terrorist organizations.
“Designation as defined under the bill is a purely administrative process intended to trigger the issuance of a “freeze order” by the Anti-Money Laundering Council,” he said.
“Proscription, on the other hand, needs court intervention that requires due notice and hearing by the Court of Appeals,” he added.
Lacson also reiterated that the bill is a good measure, constitutional, and one that is swift and effective in fighting terrorism.
The senator previously said that he would join protests should authorities commit abuses in implementing measure.
Malacañang earlier said that the bill is now under final review before the president decides if he will veto or sign it into law.
As the coronavirus continues to expand seemingly unchecked in Chile, health experts are warning of a “critical situation” facing the country and exponentially higher numbers of deaths if the epidemic is not brought under control.
The virus has exploded in Chile, prompting health officials to lock down the capital Santiago, the country’s economic engine, and force nearly 10 million of its citizens into lockdown.
Chile has confirmed nearly 247,000 cases of coronavirus and 4,502 deaths due to COVID-19.
Chile’s Budget Office said on Monday (June 22) the country’s economy would shrink 6.5% in 2020, a far deeper hole than predicted just two months prior as the coronavirus pandemic continues to pummel the South American country. (Reuters)
Nine people died and hundreds of buildings collapsed in southeastern Turkey on Sunday (February 23) after a magnitude-5.7 earthquake struck near the border with Iran, injuring dozens in villages and towns in both countries, government officials said.
Three of those killed were children and 37 Turks were injured, including nine critically, Turkey’s health ministry said.
The shallow tremor caused more than 1,000 buildings to collapse in Turkey, prompting a brief rescue effort to find those trapped under rubble.
The quake damaged buildings some 90 km (56 miles) to the west in the Turkish city of Van, and to the east in dozens of villages in Iran, where state TV said 75 people were injured including six in hospital, though there were no fatalities.
Crisscrossed by major fault lines, Iran and Turkey are among the most earthquake-prone countries in the world.—Yesim Dikmen via Reuters Connect
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