MANILA - Opposition Sen. Francis Pangilinan on Thursday criticized the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for prioritizing its campaign for the Anti-Terrorism Bill instead of helping the Department of Health's contact tracing efforts.
The DILG earlier said at least 784 local chief executives have expressed support for the bill, a measure meant to strengthen the country's anti-terror efforts that is being criticized over fears that its loose definition of a terrorist and provisions allowing detention without charges for at least 14 days may be used against government critics.
It is up for President Rodrigo Duterte's signature. Pangilinan is one of only two senators who voted against the bill.
"Kesa bigyang pokus ng DILG ang mas maigting at malawakang contact tracing at pagtulong sa mga locally stranded individuals... nagawa pa ng DILG isingit ang usapin ng anti-terror bill," Pangilinan said in a statement.
(Instead of focusing on contact tracing and helping locally stranded individuals... the DILG managed to squeeze in discussions on the Anti-Terror bill.)
"Suporta nga ba, o 'loyalty check' para sa mga kaalyado ng administrasyon?" he said.
(Is it really a form of support or is it a loyalty check among allies of the administration?)
The DILG earlier said that 43 governors, 68 city mayors and 673 municipal mayors have "expressed their solidarity and are backing the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Bill."
The agency denied that it coerced local officials into backing the bill.
Insinuations that "LGUs are being forced into supporting the Anti-Terrorism Bill is complete falsehood," DILG spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said in a statement.
It is "an affront and insult to the dignity, intelligence, and integrity of all local government officials nationwide who have freely expressed their support to the bill that was passed recently by Congress," he said.