Lawmaker denies House 'railroaded' passage of anti-terror bill

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 04 2020 11:15 AM

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MANILA - A lawmaker said Thursday the controversial anti-terror bill was not "railroaded" but the House of Representatives had invoked a prescribed limit on debates.

The measure was certified as urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte and it was passed at the House of Representatives with 173 voting yes, 31 voting no, and 29 abstentions. 

"I won’t say categorically it was railroaded but I’d say it was within the rules of the House. The House tackles a lot of different subject matters. We’re a multi-tasking body. It just happens that in the order of priorities, one thing goes ahead, another gets set aside," Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon told ANC.

Biazon on Wednesday withdrew his support for the bill after lawmakers' amendments were "not entertained."

"It’s not a face-saving move. It’s a decision of personal principle...I’m willing to take the heat as long as I know I’m directly responsible for what is the outcome of the legislation," he said.

"I still maintain my position about the country having stronger anti-terror law and would still agree this is something necessary to us."

Biazon said he would have liked to amend section 25, which tackles the designation of terrorist individuals by the anti-terrorism council (ATC).

"The bill respects the existing judicial process but I would concede that the way it’s worded it could be interpreted in another way. It could be interpreted by people that it’s the ATC which should make a probable cause," he said.

The measure's definition of terrorism should also be taken as a whole," Biazon said.

"One thing was evident was that people are trying to interpret it in their own way, like picking out certain parts of the bill and saying that’s controversial," he said.

"Destabilization has always been used against those who either criticized or try to put down the government but as I said the entire section should be taken together to get what the intention of the bill is."

Human rights groups raised alarms over the measure, saying it was unconstitutional for allowing the detention of persons perceived as terrorists for up to 24 days without charges being filed against them.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III defended the bill from critics and said it has enough safeguards to ensure that state forces would not abuse the powers granted under the measure to go after government critics.