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Duterte to certify as urgent anti-terrorism bill

Keith A. Calayag

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President Rodrigo Duterte will certify as urgent the bill that would strengthen the anti-terrorism law so that the House of Representatives can approve the measure next week before Congress adjourns sine die.

On Friday, the House Committee on Public Order and Safety and the Committee on National Defense in a joint hearing adopted the Senate’s version of the bill repealing the 2007 Human Security Act to avoid convening a bicameral conference committee into the proposed measure.

According to Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon, vice chairperson of the House Committee on National Defense, the committee report on the bill will be presented to the plenary on Monday, 1 June.

“From what I know the committee is trying to get the committee report to be presented to the plenary on Monday,” said Biazon. “We were told that it would be certified as urgent.”

A total of 40 lawmakers voted for the adoption of Senate bill on the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. Among them are Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, Deputy Speakers Raneo Abu, Roberto Puno, Vilma Santos-Recto and Loren Legarda.

Reps. Jose Christopher “Kit” Belmonte and Carlos Zarate voted against the proposed measure.

Public Order and Safety panel Chairperson Narciso Bravo Jr. during the joint panel hearing also on Friday urged for the passage of a bill similar to Senate to fast track the approval of the anti-terrorism bill by the Congress.

“The instruction of the House leadership is to somehow to submit and approve today a bill that is similar to the Senate bill because of the possibility of avoiding the [bicameral conference committee,” Bravo said.

“The importance and urgency of this bill requires us to really fast track the approval of this bill,” he added.

Congress can forego the bicameral conference committee hearing on the bill if there are no disagreeing provisions between the Senate and the House’s version and in this case, the bill could be sent to the Office of the President after the Congress’ approval.

The Senate has already approved its version of the bill — Senate bill 1083 on third and final reading last February.

Under the bill, those who will propose, incite, conspire and participate in the planning and facilitation of a terrorist attack could face a sentence equivalent to life imprisonment and it also seeks to extend the number of days suspected terrorists can be detained without a warrant of arrest from three days under current law to 14 days, extendable to 10 more days.

It also removed the provision in the current law which mandates payment of half a million in damages each day to those detained individuals who are wrongfully accused of terrorism.

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