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President Duterte Signs The Anti-Terrorism Bill Into Law

Controversial law widely criticized by some who fear broad application

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George Buid
George Buidhttp://www.georgebuid.com/
An independent photojournalist of the Philippines capturing life as it passes by. He contributes to different news outlet and press publications.

PHILIPPINES. On 3rd July 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Anti-Terrorism Bill, or the Republic Act 11479, into law. Supporters of the new law, which amends the Human Security Act of 2007, say it will help fight terrorism in the Philippines. However, its enactment caused an immediate outburst from some elected representatives and citizens.

Senators claim law overly broad. Senator Risa Hontiveros said, “All of us are against terrorist actions and it is the duty of government to secure people’s safety against terrorist actions but not with this overly broad, vague and subject to interpretation definition” quoted by CNN Philippines, 3 July 2020. Senator Hontiveros further argued that the government should focus more on the pandemic instead of amending unrelated laws. Senator Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan said he expected this. “We will be ready to question the constitutionality of this law in the Supreme Court. This boxing match is not over. This fight is not over”. You can read his statement from a news tweet by Philippine Star, 3 July 2020.

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Filipinos’ and lawyers’ reactions. Filipinos quickly responded to President Duterte’s new Anti-Terrorism Law on Twitter.

Filipino lawyers say they are concerned about the imprecise and poorly-worded provisions of the law, which could lead to an abuse of authority. They are referring to Section 29. Edre Olalia, an attorney and activist, said, “It isn’t over yet. We will not cease to exhaust any and all legitimate steps and platforms to challenge this Draconian law.”

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Supporters of anti-terrorism law. Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said, “The signing of the aforesaid law demonstrates our serious commitment to stamp out terrorism, which has long plagued the country and has caused unimaginable grief and horror to many of our people” on a live broadcast. Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, who was the principal sponsor and author of the bill before it was passed, praised its enactment into law.

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