MANILA - The Human Security Act of 2007, the country's current anti-terrorism law, has become "dead letter" and needs to be repealed, a senator who sponsored a new counterterror measure said Thursday.
Speaking on ABS-CBN's Teleradyo, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said the counterterrorism law had lost its force or authority.
This, while a controversial new anti-terror bill is awaiting President Rodrigo Duterte's signature despite protests to provisions critics call dangerous to human rights.
"Naging dead-letter law... walang silbi. Dahil sa tinagal-tagal, 2007 naipasa 'yun, may kaisa-isang conviction lang dito sa Taguig," he said.
(It became a dead-letter law... It's useless. Because after so long, it was passed in 2007, there's just one conviction in Taguig.)
Law enforcers are also reluctant in filing cases against suspected terrorists because they may be fined up to P500,000 per day for wrongful detention, Lacson said.
The lawmaker, who sponsored the widely-opposed new anti-terrorism bill in the Senate, allayed fears that the proposed measure would curtail freedom of speech and rights to assembly.
Section 4 of the measure states that "terrorism as defined in this Section shall not include advocacy, protest, dissent, stoppage of work, industrial or mass action and other similar exercises of civil and political rights," he said.
The country also needs to implement tougher measures against terrorism financing to comply with global money-laundering rules, Lacson said.
"Marami kasing misinterpretation. Nalunod sa propaganda.
This is a very good law. Kasi ang aim nito ay i-secure ang estado at proteksiyonan 'yung ating kababayan. Sabi ko nga, ang terorismo knows no timing," he said.
(There's a lot of misinterpretation. It drowned in propaganda. This is a very good law. Because our aim is to secure the state and protect our people. Like I said, terrorism knows no timing.)
Critics have raised concerns on the proposed law due to its supposed vague and dangerous provisions such as prolonged detention without charges and the designation of any person or group as terrorists.
If the bill becomes law, the government will be allowed to wiretap suspects, arrest them without a warrant and hold them without charge for at least 14 days, among other provisions.
The proposed legislation awaits President Rodrigo Duterte's signature after Congress transmitted its copy to Malacañang on June 9.
"Hindi maaaring i-modify kasi hindi ito tax or budget measure. 'Pag pangkaraniwang batas, either i-approve, i-veto or huwag galawin hanggang sa mag-lapse into law after 30 days. It's all or nothing ito," Lacson said.
(It cannot be modified because this is not a tax or budget measure. When it's an ordinary law, it's either approved, vetoed or not touched until it lapses into law after 30 days.)