The proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill is not anti-human rights as it seeks to protect the rights of innocent people from terrorists, according to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Contrary to claims of critics, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said the government, through the bill, moves to finally stamp out terrorism in the country.
“The Anti-Terrorism Bill aims to eradicate terrorism from our country. The people have nothing to fear from this bill; it is only the terrorists and their supporters who should fear it,” he said.
“This bill is a bold and timely upgrade in our arsenal against all forms of terrorism, whether the Communist-terrorists or the violent extremists that have been plaguing our country for so many years. The Marawi siege by the Maute group and other ISIS-inspired groups as well as the attacks by Communist terrorists on civilians pose a continuing clear and present danger to the lives of our countrymen,” he said.
He said the bill was conceived not to trample and violate human rights, and the insinuation that Congress will enact a law to directly disregard the Filipinos’ human rights is preposterous.
Año assured the public that the bill will only work to quell terrorism in the country.
“Ang terorismo ay threat na nangyayari hindi lamang sa Pilipinas kundi sa buong mundo at ito po ay para sa kaligtasan ng lahat at pinag-isipang mabuti at sinisigurado po nating walang pang-aabusong mangyayari,” he said.
The Anti-Terrorism Bill, which was initially approved by the Senate last February 2020, is one step away from being approved by the House of Representatives.
President Rodrigo Duterte has recently certified the bill as urgent. The bill seeks to amend and improve the provisions of the Human Security Act of 2007.
The bill provides for 10-year imprisonment to any law enforcement agent who will violate the rights of persons under custody.
“Mapaparusahan po ang sinumang lumabag sa karapatang-pantao ng mga masasakdal na mga terorista, tinitiyak din po iyan ng Anti-Terrorism Bill,” Año said.
It penalizes those who will propose, incite, conspire, and participate in the planning, training, preparation and facilitation of a terrorist act, provide material support, and recruit anyone to be a member of a terrorist organization.
Año said the bill itself provides that “terrorism shall not include advocacy, protest, dissent, stoppage of work, industrial or mass action, and other similar exercises of civil and political rights.”