MANILA- Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday said Congress should finish tackling proposed amendments to the country's existing anti-terrorism law before it takes a recess this week.
The measure is awaiting President Rodrigo Duterte's certification as "urgent," Lorenzana said.
"It is certified urgent bill para matapos ito bago mag-recess ang Congress before June 5 (to it could be passed before Congress goes on recess before June 5)," he said in a virtual press briefing.
Certifying the bill as urgent would allow Congress to expedite its approval process.
Netizens over the weekend criticized the proposed legislation on concerns that it might violate basic rights. The hashtag #JunkTerrorBill trended in the Philippines on Friday.
Lorenzana, however, claimed that the criticism against the bill has no basis, saying the measure provides safety nets for human rights.
"Wala namang basehan 'yung kanilang mga oposisyon dahil binasa ko 'yung panukalang batas. 'Yung mga karapatan naman ng tao ay may sapat na provision at 'yung law enforcement agencies ay may sapat din na kaparusahan sa mga mag-aabuso," he said.
(I read the measure and their opposition to the bill has no basis. There is enough provision for human rights and there are also enough penalties for law enforcement agencies who will abuse their power.)
"Dapat walang ipangamba ang ating kababayan," he added.
(Our countrymen have nothing to worry about.)
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, a former military chief, also backed the speedy passage of the bill, saying it is for the safety of Filipinos.
"Ito naman po ay para sa kaligtasan ng lahat at pinag-isipang mabuti at sinisugurado po nating walang abusong mangyayari kaya sana po suportahan na natin itong anti-terrorism bill po natin," he said.
(This is for the safety of everyone. This bill was well thought out and we assure you that there will be no abuses so we hope that the public would support this bill.)
If the bill becomes law, any person who shall be accused of threatening to commit terrorism shall suffer the penalty of 12 years in prison.
The same prison term will be imposed on those who will propose any terroristic acts or incite others to commit terrorism.