MANILA - The Senate on Wednesday approved on third and final reading a bill allowing "suspected" terrorists to be arrested without warrant and detained for up to 14 days.
Nineteen senators voted in favor, while 2 others thumbed down the passage of Senate Bill 1083, which amends the Human Security Act of 2007.
Under the proposed measure, authorities are allowed to place "suspected" individuals and organizations under surveillance, and compel telecommunication companies to divulge calls and messages.
The bill also allows regional trial courts to label an organization as a terrorist group, and removes the compensation guaranteed for wrongfully detained individuals.
Opposition senators Francis Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros voted against the bill's approval, saying the government can use the law against critics.
"At a time when legitimate critics and democratic dissent are being silenced, the Human Security Act could be likened to a certain extent the anti-subversion law during martial law, and may be used against opposition senators," Pangilinan said in a speech delivered in plenary.
"The proposed new definition of terrorism is too vague and encompassing, making it open to abuse in that the simplest mobilization or common crimes as acts of terrorism," he said.
Hontiveros criticized the measure's passage, saying lawmakers should craft policies with the assumption that the country can be ruled by "despots and not the most benevolent leaders."
Former Philippine National Police chief and now Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa lauded the bill's passage, saying authorities have "long waited" for the measure.
The amendment of the Human Security Act was one of the factors considered by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. in recommending the lifting of Martial Law in Mindanao last December.