Holding protests vs anti-terror bill is basic right but health protocols must be followed – Lacson

Robie de Guzman   •   June 11, 2020   •   368

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday said that staging protest activities against the controversial Anti-Terrorism bill is a basic right of every Filipino guaranteed in the Philippine Constitution.

“The plan of those opposing the Anti-Terrorism Bill to hold protests on Independence Day – regardless of whether they have read and understood the bill – is their basic right, guaranteed under the Bill of Rights,” Lacson said in a statement.

“Such basic rights shall remain guaranteed even if and when the Anti-Terrorism Bill is signed into law by the President and becomes effective,” he added.

However, he reminded protesters to “be conscious and mindful” of the existing protocols in relation to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Several groups have earlier revealed plans of convening an online rally to express their sentiments against the Anti-Terrorism bill and other issues in time for the country’s commemoration of the Independence Day on June 12.

Joint Task Force Coronavirus Shield chief Police Lieutenant General Guillermo Eleazar urged those planning to hold mass protest actions to “think twice” as any form of mass gathering is prohibited under the quarantine protocols.

The Inter-Agency Task Force earlier said it will allow a gathering for the commemoration of the Independence Day in Rizal Park in Manila on Friday but it should only be limited to 10 participants.

Malacañang, meanwhile, called on people to hold their protests on social media to avoid breaching any health and quarantine protocols.

Rights advocates have earlier expressed fear over the passage of the bill which contains provisions that may be abused by authorities.

The bill’s authors have repeatedly said that the measure only seeks to protect the innocents and strengthen the country’s campaign against terrorism.

Lawmakers championing the bill also stressed that law-abiding citizens need not fear the measure, adding that enough safeguards have been put in place to ensure the rights of those detained.

Lacson blasts UN official for calling on Duterte not to sign Anti-Terror bill

Robie de Guzman   •   July 3, 2020

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.

Anti-Terrorism bill now under final review – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   July 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The bill that seeks to toughen the country’s campaign against terrorism is now under final review, Malacañang said on Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the proposed Anti-Terrorism bill has been forwarded to the Office of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea for final review before it reaches the table of the President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Ibig sabihin po, mayroon na pong memorandum na recommending a course of action to the president subject to final approval lang po siguro yan ni executive secretary at dadalhin na po sa lamesa ni president,” Roque explained.

The chief executive has a week to decide on whether to approve or veto the measure before it lapses into law on July 9.

Congress on June 9 transmitted the controversial bill to the Palace for Duterte’s signature despite opposition from various groups.

The anti-terrorism bill seeks to amend and improve the provisions of the Human Security Act of 2007.

Under the measure, anyone who threatens to commit terrorism, propose any terroristic acts or incite others to commit terrorism shall mete out a penalty of 12 years of imprisonment.

It also introduces provisions penalizing those who will propose, incite, conspire, participate in the planning, training, preparation and facilitation of a terrorist act; as well as those who will provide material support to terrorists, and recruit members in a terrorist organization.

Proponents of the bill has repeatedly assured the public that activists and critics of the government will not be considered as terrorists following concerns that the measure will be used to target those who are expressing anti-government sentiments. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Anti-Terrorism Bill still under review —Pres. Duterte

Marje Pelayo   •   June 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is still waiting for feedback from his legal team as regards the controversial Anti-Terrorism Bill. 

The President himself said that the bill is still under review of the team and he is waiting for their recommendation. 

“My legal is still reviewing it in Malacanang. Hindi ko pa natanggap. I had it reviewed. It’s always automatic, pagdaan sa akin, I endorse it to legal without even reading it actually, if you really want to know,” the President explained. 

“It’s (the) legal (team) who will return it to me with a recommendation, by then, I will approve it or not,” he added.

Critics have been raising their concern about the bill, arguing against its provisions which to them pose a violation of human rights.

Meanwhile, the President insists that the communist rebels are the major threats to national security. 

He cited the recent attacks by the new People’s Army (NPA) against government troops delivering goods to residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Terrorism is number one on our list. Actually the number one threat to the country ay hindi Abu Sayyaf, hindi ang mga terorista of no value. Itong high value targets ito iyong mga komunista. Kaya ang utos ko talaga sa Armed Forces, sa sundalo, upakan mo,” the President said. 

[Terrorism is number one on our list. Actually, the number one threat to the country is not the Abu Sayyaf, not the terrorists of no value. The high-value targets are the communists. That’s why I ordered the Armed Forces, the military to neutralize them.]

President Duterte is planning to pay a visit to military camps in the coming days to check on the welfare of the soldiers. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)


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