MANILA: Malacañang on Tuesday received a copy of the anti-terrorism bill which is now up for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed the news in a text message to reporters.
In a virtual presser earlier in the day, Roque said Duterte has 30 days to act on the legislation or else it will lapse into a law.
“We have a 30-day period to review, either to veto or to sign the bill. Otherwise, kung wala pong aksyon ang Presidente (if the President does not act on it), it will become law,” he said.
Roque said Duterte will spend the next few days working in Davao City.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Duterte is likely to wait for his department to review the measure, adding his department targets to submit its comments on the bill in 15 days.
Roque, meanwhile, assured critics and detractors that the measure will have safeguards against human rights abuses.
“There are safeguards po. Unang-una, kinakailangan po may (First, it is necessary to have a) judicial declaration to be classified as a terrorist group,” he said.
He also said law enforcement authorities that will abuse the proposed law could face imprisonment of up to 10 years.
Last week, Roque assured that Duterte will thoroughly review the anti-terrorism bill to ensure that it complies with the 1987 Constitution.
He said Duterte is in no rush to sign the measure meant to add more teeth to the country’s law against terrorism.
Roque also assured that the anti-terrorism bill would not curtail freedom of speech.
Under the bill, persons who shall threaten to commit terrorism and those who will propose any terroristic acts or incite others to commit terrorism shall suffer imprisonment of 12 years.
Suspected persons can be detained for 14 days without a warrant of arrest with an allowable 10-day extension.
A 60-day surveillance on suspected terrorists can also be conducted by the police or the military, with an allowable 30-day extension.
Videoconferencing for the accused and witnesses will also be allowed under the measure.
To allay fears of abuse, the Commission on Human Rights will be notified in case of the detention of a suspected terrorist.
The opposition and progressive groups condemned the passage of the measure in the Congress, describing it as an attack on freedom of speech or an avenue for red-tagging.
(PNA/ Azer Parrocha/ SRNY/ RSP)