MANILA - Critics of the anti-terror bill can express their dissent and participate in the crafting of its implementing rules and regulations, a senator said Monday.
The measure awaits President Rodrigo Duterte's signature. When it becomes a law, it would allow the wiretapping of suspects, their warrantless arrest and detention without charges for up to 14 days.
The House of Representatives passed the bill last week, while the Senate passed it in February.
"On the part of the Senate, it was heard thoroughly, public hearings were conducted and I don’t see any reason why another set of hearings should be conducted," Sen. Francis Tolentino told ANC.
"There are still some spaces for those dissenting. Perhaps they can participate in the formulation of the implementing rules and regulations."
Tolentino said the measure should be read with the Philippines' treaty obligations.
"The designation of terrorist or terrorist organization is not just left to the ATC, you have the UN Security Council, of which the Philippines is bound to follow," he said.
"You should read the whole law as a whole, not treat it per provision. The heart of this law is Section 4 and 26. When you read the law, you should read it hand in hand with our national treaty obligations."
The senator added that the anti-terror council will "just recommend" individuals who are allegedly terrorists or part of a terrorist group and that the judiciary is involved in the process.
"The decision of the Court of Appeals is involved. The person has the right to be heard, have counsel, rebut the evidence being given by the DOJ. All of these constitutional rights of an individual—local or foreign--will have to be respected," he said.
"It’s a reiteration of constitutional rights. It strengthens the right of an individual to have protection of his life, liberty and property. I don’t see any reason why this should be harshly criticized especially if you have yet to understand the law."
The measure has sparked protests nationwide. At least 8 have been arrested in Cebu for supposed violating quarantine measures.