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Anti-terrorism bill awaits Duterte OK

Despite House attempt to delay transmittal, copy already in Malacañang

Hananeel Bordey

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President Rodrigo Duterte can either sign or choose to not act at all for 30 days on the anti-terrorism bill. Either way, it will mean the approval of the controversial measure. (PCOO)

The controversial anti-terrorism bill has been sent to Malacañang for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.

In a text message, Senate President Vicente Sotto III confirmed the bill was forwarded to the Palace after he and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano signed the final version of the measure.

“Alan signed last night. Sending it to PRRD this morning,” Sotto said as they await for the official notice of receipt from the Office of the President.

“It’s as good as received. They are now printing copies in the Palace.”

He also expressed confidence that the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act will not be rejected by Duterte, who certified the measure as urgent.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace has a 30-day period to veto the bill.

“Kung walang aksyon ang Pangulo, that becomes a law,” Roque said.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said they expect to receive a letter requesting for their comments on the bill.

“As in the past, we shall focus on issues of constitutionality.  Our deadline will be set by the OP but i believe that 15 days will be good enough.  The President has 30 days to act on the bill,” said Guevarra.

The official transmittal was done despite moves in the House of Representatives to recall the measure after its approval on final reading.

On Monday, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate asked Cayetano to hold the transmittal of the bill after some lawmakers withdrew their votes. Other co-authors also backed out.

Sotto, one of the principal authors of Senate Bill 1083, said that holding the enrolment of the bill for President’s approval has not been done in the past.

“They should not want to do that. A bill passed by both Houses of Congress already enrolled and yet some congressmen would like to hold it? It has never been done. They would not want me to do that to any of their bills, do they?” he asked.

But that’s water under the bridge, according to the Senate chief, as the bill is already on the President’s desk.

The House of Representatives approved the counterpart measure of the anti-terrorism bill on Wednesday, adopting provisions of Senate Bill 1083.

SB 1083 seeks to “provide a strong legal backbone to support the country’s criminal justice response to terrorism, provide the law enforcers the much-needed tools to protect the people from the threat of terrorism, and at the same time safeguard the rights of those accused of the crime.”

It metes out penalties to those involved in the planning, training, preparing, facilitating, conspiring, inciting, and recruiting of terrorists as well as providing of materials for acts of terrorism. It will also cover penalties for foreigners who perpetrate or initiate any acts of terrorism in the country.

The bill will also give jurisdiction to the Philippine government over Filipinos involved in terrorism abroad. (With reports from Francis Wakefield, Alvin Murcia)

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