Anti-terror bill under 'final review' in Palace, says Duterte spox

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 02 2020 01:31 PM

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

MANILA - A bill that seeks to boost the Philippines' anti-terrorism campaign is already under "final review," Malacañang said Thursday as the nation awaited President Rodrigo Duterte's decision on the measure.

The proposal is already with the office of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea - the last stop before it reaches the table of the President.

"Nailipat na po 'yan (anti-terror bill) sa tanggapan ni Executive Secretary for final review," Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said in a Palace press briefing.

(The bill is already with the office of the Executive Secretary for final review.)

"Ibig sabihin po mayroon nang memorandum recommending a course of action to the President. Subject to final approval lang po siguro 'yan ni Executive Secretary at dadalhin na po sa lamesa ni Presidente," he added.

(It means that there is already a memorandum recommending a course of action to the President. That is subject to the final approval of the Executive Secretary before it is sent to the President's table.)

Duterte still has a week to decide on the anti-terror bill before it lapses into law on July 9.

Congress on June 9 transmitted the bill to Malacañang for President Duterte's signature even as some lawmakers tried to withdraw their support for the measure.

Critics have called out the bill, which adds muscle to the 2007 Human Security Act, on fears that it could be abused to violate basic rights due to the broad definition of "terrorism."

If it becomes a law, the government will be authorized to wiretap suspects, arrest them without warrants and hold them without charges for up to 24 days, among other provisions.

Those against the bill have used the hashtag #JunkTerrorBill to show their opposition to the measure. 

Several groups have also launched signature campaigns calling for the scrapping of the bill.

Earlier this week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called on President Rodrigo Duterte to refrain from signing the bill, citing its potential "chilling effect" on humanitarian and human rights work.