Duterte 'inclined' to sign anti-terror bill as Palace reviews measure

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 16 2020 01:35 PM

Protesters gather on June 12, 2020 for a "party-themed gathering against the anti-terror bill. Jire Carreon, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte is "inclined" to sign a tougher anti-terrorism bill that has sparked protests, his spokesman said Tuesday, after lawmakers submitted a copy of the measure to Malacañang.

The bill is under review at the office of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said.

"Bagaman nasa Malacañang na ang anti-terror bill, siguro po pinag-aaralan pa ng Office of the Executive Secretary ang sinumiteng panukalang batas dahil wala pa po mismo sa lamesa ng Presidente," Roque said in a Palace press briefing.

(While the anti-terror bill has been submitted to the Palace, it is still being studied by the Office of the Executive Secretary. It has not been placed on the President's table.)

In a television interview prior to the Palace press briefing, Roque said the President was "inclined" to sign the measure, which he also certified urgent.

"Let’s just say that he’s (Duterte) taking a final look at it but I think he is inclined to sign it," Roque told CNN Philippines.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra over the weekend said his department was requested to comment on the proposed legislation to the Office of the President by Wednesday.

"We'll review the proposed anti-terrorism bill as independently and objectively as possible, with only the security of the nation and the civil and political rights of the people in mind," Guevarra said in a statement released Saturday.

Congress on June 9 transmitted the bill to Duterte's office, seeking to amend the 2007 Human Security Act.

The proposed measure has stoked fears of rights violations due to its broad definition of "terrorism" and for provisions giving wider surveillance powers to authorities.

Those against the bill have used the hashtag #JunkTerrorBill on social media. Several groups have also launched signature campaigns calling for the scrapping of the bill.

The stricter anti-terror law comes as the Philippines continued efforts to stop terror activities, including kidnappings and bombing operations of the Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf group, extremists that the United Nations tagged as terrorists in 2001.