President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said his legal advisers are still reviewing the bill that aims to strengthen the country’s law against terrorism.
In a public address, Duterte said he has yet to receive a copy of feedback from his legal team on the anti-terrorism bill’s provisions.
“My legal is still reviewing it. My legal team sa Malacañan. There’s only — hindi ko pa natanggap (I haven’t received it yet),” he said.
He said that once the legislation reaches his desk, it should already have the recommendation to sign or veto it.
“It’s always — automatic ‘yan (it’s automatic). ‘Pag daan sa akin (when it reaches me), I endorse it to legal. Without even reading it actually, if you — if you want really to know. It’s legal who will return it to me with a recommendation whether I will approve it or not,” he added.
Earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that the Office of the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and the Department of Justice have already submitted their feedback on the proposed law.
Roque said the Office of the Executive Secretary, particularly the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs is still finalizing their inputs.
He, however, noted that the President, a lawyer himself, would not just rely on the recommendations but read the provisions of the bill himself.
“Let’s not forget, that the President was also a criminal lawyer, a public prosecutor. He will read the bill himself and he will himself make a determination if there’s any provision that is contrary to the bill of rights and the Constitution,” he said in a virtual presser on June 17.
Meanwhile, Duterte also stressed that besides the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), terrorism is still the top threat to the country’s security.
“Terrorism is number one on our list. Actually the number one threat to the country hindi (it’s not) Abu Sayyaf, hindi ‘yung mga terorista (it’s not terrorists) of no value. Itong high-value targets ito ‘yung mga komunista (The high-value targets are communists),” he said.
He urged the Armed Forces of the Philippines to strike the communist rebels first before they launched attacks.
“Kaya ang utos ko talaga sa Armed Forces, sa sundalo, upakan mo, upakan mo. Kasi ‘pag ikaw ang inabot (That’s why my order to the Armed Forces, the soldiers is to strike first before the NPA gets them),” he said.
He also appealed to the communist rebels not to harm soldiers escorting the field officers of the Department of Social Welfare and Development distributing cash aid under the social amelioration program.
The anti-terrorism bill seeks to amend and give more teeth to the provisions of the Human Security Act of 2007.
Under the proposed measure, the detention of suspected terrorists for up to 24 days sans a warrant of arrest will be permitted. It also allows a 60-day surveillance with an allowable 30-day extension that can be conducted by the police or the military against the suspected terrorists.
A person who voluntarily or knowingly joins a terrorist organization will also face 12 years of imprisonment.
Some lawmakers and human rights groups have opposed the measure, saying it would allow violation of human rights. (PNA)