Lacson blasts UN official for calling on Duterte not to sign Anti-Terror bill
Robie de Guzman • July 3, 2020 • 992
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.
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte will join the United Nations (UN) General Assembly beginning Tuesday (September 22) where he will address more than 190 state and government leaders.
Due to the pandemic, the said gathering of leaders will be held online for the first time coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.
This is also the first time President Duterte will participate in the said assembly that will end on September 26.
According to Chief of Presidential Protocol Robert Borje, the President will deliver his speech at the high-level general debate Tuesday night in the Philippines.
The Chief Executive will be the 12th among the 14 speakers set to speak at the UN-GA morning session.
“This will be the President’s first time to address the UN General assembly, the main deliberative organ of the UN where all the 193 member states are represented,” Borje said.
The President will be able to cover several issues in his speech including the maritime dispute in the South China Sea as well as issues on human rights and justice in the country to which his controversial war on drugs campaign is related.
“President Duterte will article principal positions of the Philippines on a wide range of issues. I do not want to pre-empt the President, but these are of key importance to the country,” Borje said.
Borje identified the main points Duterte is expected to raise during the assembly which include: global response to the coronavirus pandemic; peace and security including terrorism, geo political developments in the Asia Pacific; sustainable development and climate change; rule of law; justice and human rights including the situation of migrant workers and refugees; peace-keeping; and United Nations reforms. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the Senate committee on national defense and security, on Thursday urged the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to aim for an “excellent” speed of internet connection.
Lacson made the remark in response to the view of DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan II that the Philippines “is not doing too badly” in terms of internet speed performance during his agency’s 2021 budget hearing in Congress.
“With all due respect to a highly regarded Cavalier and distinguished former Senate colleague, “not so bad” may sound worse than ‘not so good,’” he said in a statement.
Honasan earlier said that while other countries have 55 megabytes per second (mbps) internet speeds, the 3 to 7mbps internet speed in the country “is not that bad” amid complaints over slow speed.
“In the middle of a pandemic when the order of the day is virtual communication, what we want to hear, at least realistically, is ‘good enough,’” Lacson said.
“Of course, it goes without saying, ‘very good’ or even ‘excellent’ is what we all want to hear from DICT. Clearly, there is much room for improvement,” he added.
According to the DICT, the country’s current internet speed could reach up to 25.07mbps, compared to the maximum 7.91mbps in 2016.
The agency said the country’s slower internet connection is due to lack of telecommunications infrastructure compared to other countries that have fix broadbands which require lots of telecommunication towers and fiber optic cables.
MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Friday said a fresh investigation should be conducted into the alleged corruption at the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) following the resignation of one of its officers.
“There must be a full blown Senate investigation. Allegations and denials abound therefore diligence is necessary,” Sotto said in a statement.
“Where there is smoke, there is fire!” he added.
Lawyer Thorrsson Montes Keith resigned from his post in PhilHealth citing “widespread corruption” in the agency as one of his reasons for quitting. He also said in his resignation letter that the mandatory payment of PhilHealth contribution by overseas Filipinos workers was “unconstitutional” and against his personal values to let OFWs “pay for the spillages” of the agency.
He also claimed that there is rampant and patent unfairness in the agency’s promotion process, and that his salary and hazard pay has not been on time since he started investigating Philhealth officers as its “anti-fraud legal officer.”
According to Senator Panfilo Lacson, he is now drafting a resolution seeking for an inquiry into the issue.
“I am now drafting a resolution calling for a Senate Committee of the Whole inquiry. As expressed by SP Sotto to me last night, this inquiry will be one of the Senate’s top agenda after our session resumes on Monday,” Lacson said in a separate statement.
Reports quoting sources said that corruption claims were the topic of an online meeting that led to a shouting match between Philhealth officials on Thursday evening.
“That such corruption occurred amid the COVID-19 crisis makes it more disgusting and abominable,” Lacson said.
“Nakakasuya na sobra. Needless to say, there is urgency that the Senate has to act on the matter immediately, as part of its oversight mandate, having passed the Universal Health Law,” he added.
Last year, the Senate launched a probe into alleged conflict of interest between PhilHealth and the Department of Health. The investigation also covered DOH contracts that went to pharmaceutical firms owned by relatives of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
PhilHealth President and CEO Ricardo Morales earlier denied claims of widespread corruption in the agency and called on Keith to substantiate his allegations. He also said that Keith only raised the issue after his application for another post at the agency was turned down.
Morales also denied the alleged resignation of two other PhilHealth officers due to corruption allegations. He said his head executive assistant resigned to pursue his doctoral studies while a corporate counsel denied any news of quitting his post. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)
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