MANILA - Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa on Sunday joined other proponents of the new Anti-Terror bill in defending the measure, saying it is "not meant to terrorize" activists, government critics and other individuals unless they are linked to terror plots.
Several groups have protested the passage of the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which has been certified urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte, over fears that the "vague" definition of "terrorist" in the bill can be used to stifle dissent and criticism against the government.
"Kahit po magsigaw-sigaw ka diyan [ng], 'Makibaka, makibaka,' hindi po kayo saklaw dito," Dela Rosa said in a statement.
(Even if you scream, 'Join the struggle! Join the struggle!' in protests, you are not covered by this.)
"Kung ikaw ay law-abiding citizen at ayaw na ayaw mo ang terrorism, when this bill is signed into law, you will rejoice... Ito ay ginawa para protektahan tayo against terrorism, hindi para tayo ang i-terrorize," he said.
(If you're a law-abiding citizen and you don't like terrorism, you will rejoice when this bill is signed into law... It was made to protect us from terrorism, not to terrorize us.)
The former police chief blamed communist groups for what he says as misinformation about the bill.
"Sinasabihan nila ang mga bata, mag-rally kayo. Kaya yung sa UP Cebu [na] mga estudyante, sino nag-lead sa mga rally nila? Mga matatanda, mga 60-years-old na mga leader ng Anakbayan na hiniritan yung mga bata na hindi na kayo pwedeng mag-rally kapag [may] Anti-Terror bill na," Dela Rosa said.
(They urge the kids to hold rallies. That's why in UP Cebu, who were leading the protests? They are the elderly people, 60 year-old leaders of Anakbayan who have been scaring kids that they can no longer protest if the Anti-Terror bill is passed into law.)
"Hindi po yan totoo, hindi po saklaw sa terrorism yung pagra-rally ninyo, hindi po kasama dito," he said.
(That is not true. Holding rallies is not considered terrorism; it's not included in the bill.)
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, the bill's primary author, has said that he would join protests should implementers of the proposed law abuse the measure.
Congress has transmitted the bill for Duterte's signature last week.
The bill seeks to repeal the Human Security Act of 2007.