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Palace legal team still reviewing anti-terrorism bill – Duterte

By: Darryl John Esguerra - INQUIRER.net June 23,2020 - 08:54 AM

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to get his hands on the controversial anti-terror bill.

“My legal [team] is still reviewing it,” Duterte said in a taped meeting with Cabinet officials aired on Monday night.

“I have not gotten it back. I had it reviewed. It’s always automatic. After it was passed to me, I endorsed it to legal without — even reading it, actually. It’s legal who will return it with a recommendation whether I approve it or not,” he added, speaking partly in Filipino.

The bill, which Duterte certified as urgent, contains provisions feared by many as a potential state weapon against dissent and that could possibly be used to curtail human rights.

The anti-terror bill seeks to strengthen the Human Security Act of 2007 and punish those who will propose, incite, conspire, participate in the planning, training, preparation, and facilitation of a terrorist act; including those who will provide material support to terrorists, and recruit members in a terrorist organization.

Among its points contention is its provision allowing the detention of suspects for up to 24 days without charge and empowers an anti-terrorism council to designate suspects or groups as suspected terrorists who could be subjected to arrests and surveillance.

The President’s top military and security officials have cited the continuing threat of terror groups in the country, such as the Abu Sayyaf Group, as the main reason for the need for the law.

The presidential spokesman, Harry Roque, earlier revealed that Duterte was “inclined” to sign the bill into law.

But he noted that Duterte would consider all the legal advice he could get from various government agencies.

The bill was transmitted to Malacañang on June 9 and will lapse into law after 30 days if not acted upon. /atm

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