‘…(T)he most potent indicator that President Duterte will make it a law comes from the Chief Executive’s mouth himself.’
THERE are several indicators that President Duterte will sign the enrolled copy of the anti-terrorism bill, if he has not signed it yet.
First, Malacañang Palace has certified the bill authored by Sen. Panfilo Lacson as “urgent,” a speed-up imprimatur that the Palace was not able to confer to the Bayanihan to Heal as One II.
Second, all the President’s men in both houses of Congress are weighing in on the issue, taking the affirmative side, among them Sen. Francis “Tol” Tolentino, Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go and Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa.
In his defense of the bill, Senator Tolentino said enough safeguards had been written in the measure itself, allaying the fears of oppositors and critics that it could be used in committing abuse by law enforcers.
Tolentino, a lawyer, also said the anti-terrorism measure does not impinge on the Bill of Rights or any constitutional provision, and that people should read and understand the letter and intent of the law before coming up with baseless criticisms against it.
Third, the most potent indicator that President Duterte will make it a law comes from the Chief Executive’s mouth himself. Last week, Duterte exhorted the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to remain alert against terrorism especially since the coronavirus pandemic has “not killed” the lingering security threat.
Duterte cautioned the regional bloc that terrorism remains “alive,” citing the “unconscionable” attacks during relief efforts amid the public health emergency.
The event was the 36th Asean summit hosted by Vietnam through video conference.
“The pandemic has not killed terrorism. It remains alive, lurking in the shadows,” he said, citing as example the New People’s Army which reportedly attacked government soldiers doing relief operations, mirroring the situation in other members of the regional bloc. Duterte believes that a time of great need, these acts are unconscionable and must be met with a necessary resolve using the military might of the state.
The usual critics of the President — the political opposition, the Catholic Church, Catholic colleges and left-leaning universities, open organizations secretly affiliated with the National Democratic Front — may well be prepared for a huge frustration.