Anti-terror bill now under final review

Anti-terror bill now under final review

MANILA – Malacañang on Thursday said the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 is now under final review at the Office of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs has forwarded its feedback to the Executive Secretary for final review.

Roque said the feedback provided by the Deputy Executive Secretary contains the “recommended course of action” to President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Meron na pong memorandum na (There is now a memorandum) recommending a course of action to the President, subject to final approval lang po siguro ‘yan ni (of the) Executive Secretary at dadalhin na po sa lamesa ni Presidente (and it will be brought to the President’s desk),” he said in a virtual briefing on Thursday.

The Department of Justice and the Office of the Presidential Legal Counsel have already finished their review of the measure.

If the President does not sign or veto the bill by July 9, it will automatically lapse into law.

On Wednesday, Roque said Duterte may either sign or allow the measure to lapse into law.

“Let’s just say that there’s a possibility that the President will take steps for the bill to become a law, either by signing it or letting it lapse into law,” he said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel’s Headstart.

The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 aims to repeal the country’s current Human Security Act of 2007 or Republic Act 9372.

Under the measure, suspected terrorists can be detained for up to 24 days sans a warrant of arrest.

It also allows a 60-day surveillance with an allowable 30-day extension that can be conducted by the police or the military against suspected terrorists.

The bill also imposes a 12-year jail term on a person who voluntarily or knowingly joins a terrorist organization.

Whether it is signed or vetoed, lawyers who have opposed the measure said they would challenge the constitutionality of the law before the Supreme Court.

EJK not a gov’t policy

Roque rejected the claim made by former senator Antonio Trillanes IV that the death of four soldiers allegedly in the hands of police officers in an alleged “misencounter” was a result of “tolerating the EJKs the past four years.”

“Hindi po natin kinukunsinti ang patayan kaya nga po masinsinang imbestigasyon ang ginagawa natin dito sa naging pagpatay sa apat na sundalo mula po sa hukbong sandatahan (We do not tolerate killing. That is why a thorough investigation is being done on the killing of four soldiers from the Armed Forces),” he said.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, who was also present in the briefing via Skype, echoed Roque, saying extrajudicial killing is not a government policy.

“We will exact justice and we will make sure that those responsible shall be accountable,” Año said.

On Wednesday, Roque said Duterte has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to hasten its investigation into the shooting incident in Jolo, Sulu involving cops and soldiers.

Killed were Maj. Marvin Indammog, 39; Capt. Irwin Managuelod, 33; Sgt. Jaime Velasco, 38; and Cpl. Abdal Asula, 33.

The four were tailing four terrorist suicide bombers when the shooting happened. (PNA)

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