MANILA - A lawyer on Wednesday said the Anti-Terror bill gives too much power to the executive branch to go after legitimate dissent.
“My greatest concern is that the bill could be used against non-terrorists,” Constitutional Law Professor Antonio La Viña said on ANC's Headstart.
La Viña criticized the remarks of Senator Vicente Sotto III, who, according to him, brands those opposed to the bill as either terrorists or supporters of terrorists.
“That is exactly the problem. This bill allows the government to do that, to the Anti-Terrorism Council and say we designate this group, we designate these people as terrorists just because they are against the Anti-Terror bill,” La Viña said.
He added, “That is very, very dangerous because when you add additional powers that are given and the safeguards have been taken away in this bill, you end up with a very draconian bill that will not solve the problem of terrorism but will instead end up with a chilling effect on ordinary citizens, on ordinary people.”
La Viña described the bill's provision on "inciting to terrorism" as "crazy," saying it is "loosely defined."
President Rodrigo Duterte has certified the bill as urgent. On Wednesday, the House of Representatives approved it on final reading, while the Senate approved its version of the said proposed measure in February.
The bill seeks to repeal the "outdated" Human Security Act of 2007.
“Timing is important because it makes it difficult for people to lobby against it. We are in a very tense situation now where people are upset about what government is doing,” La Viña said.
Critics and human rights advocates expressed concern over the proposed amendment, which sets the number of days a terror suspect can be detained after a warrantless arrest to 14 days, and may be extended to another 10 days.