The anti-terrorism bill under scrutiny


    ‘Perhaps Speaker Cayetano should follow the suggestion of Rep. Lagman and put the anti-terrorism under hard scrutiny before submitting it to the Palace.’

    WITH the everyday barrage of information about the coronavirus coming from the DOH, the public has become inured and uninterested in reminders such as washing of hands and social distancing. This is perhaps the reason why the next trending issue which almost everybody wanted to take up, is the passage of a new anti-terrorism bill.

    Several opposition leaders, religious men of differing faith, entertainment and fashion celebrities, and lawmakers have recently aired their reservations on the anti-terror legislation pushed by Senators Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

    While the religious, their Pro-Life supporters, Catholic universities and members of the Yellow camp only have motherhood statements against the anti-terrorism bill, a few critics of the proposed legislation offer sensible arguments. One of them is Rep. Edcel Lagman of the first district of Albay.

    Lagman called over the weekend both the Senate and the House of Representatives to take a second look at the “vague and amorphous” provisions of the bill.

    He expressed optimism that both chambers will do their part in reviewing the controversial measure, while the enrolled bill has yet to be transmitted to President Duterte for his signature.

    Lagman said the vague and amorphous provisions may be open to abuse by the law enforcers and by the executive agencies for wrongful interpretation and unlawful arrest. He stressed that among the questionable provisions are the 14-day warrantless arrest, a six-month ransacking of bank accounts, and a 90-day surveillance and wire-tapping, and vague provisions allowing law enforcers, the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to perpetrate abusive interpretations of the law and unlawful apprehensions.

    The veteran lawmaker earlier asked Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano not to sign the enrolled bill on the “Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020” to afford both the House of Representatives and the Senate to make their own respective reviews of the measure to cleanse it of constitutional infirmities.

    Lagman also requested House Secretary General Jose Luis Montales for a certification on how the House members cast their votes on the House Bill No. 6875 or proposed “Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020” last June 3 “to ascertain the real score of the voting” on third and final reading.

    He made the request, saying there “appears to be some confusion on the tabulation of votes as evidenced by changes and corrections made in the result of the voting by the attending staff of the Secretariat.”

    As some congressmen, one by one, gain momentum in changing their votes from “yes” to “no,” Quezon 4th district Rep. Angelina “Helen” Tan clarified that she abstained from voting on the bill. Tan made the clarification because of social media reports that she voted “yes.”
    Perhaps Speaker Cayetano should follow the suggestion of Rep. Lagman and put the anti-terrorism under hard scrutiny before submitting it to the Palace.