‘No Duterte objections’ to anti-terrorism bill

CNN  Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has not expressed any objections to the provisions of the controversial anti-terrorism bill, the country’s security adviser said Thursday.

“I talked to my fellow Cabinet members about it, and they said, so far, he has no objections to the provisions of the proposed anti-terrorism bill,” National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. told CNN Philippines’ The Source.

As of publishing, Malacañang has yet to give an update on the status of the proposed measure, which has been under review by the Palace’s legal team. The President has until July 9— or 30 days from receipt of the enrolled copy— to act on the bill, otherwise it would lapse into law.

His spokesperson Harry Roque previously noted Duterte is “inclined” to sign the bill— which seeks to impose stiffer penalties for “terrorists” and those found to be helping or engaging in related acts. The chief executive also earlier certified the measure as urgent.

RELATED: Duterte to ‘personally review’ anti-terrorism bill for constitutional infirmities — Roque

Esperon, for his part, said he will also personally push for the bill’s passage, citing that it has been in the legislative mill for three years.

If passed, the anti-terrorism bill— which targets to repeal the Human Security Act of 2007— will allow suspects to be arrested without warrant and detained without charges for up to 24 days.

The proposed measure was met with a flurry of criticism from netizens and rights groups who voiced out concerns on its “broad” and “vague” provisions that may supposedly lead to human rights violations. Critics also argued the measure may be used to target those who express dissent against the government.

However, the security adviser allayed these concerns, saying government officials themselves will ensure that their Constitutional safeguards— including rights to freedom of expression and assembly— will be protected.

“If they are just expressing their dissent, their ideas, and legal expression of what they have against injustices, we allow that,” Esperon said.    

“We would even protect them to be able to do that. Activism is not terrorism, and terrorism is not activism," he added