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Finish na: Anti-terror bill up for Duterte’s signature, says Sotto

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It looks like it’s the end of the road for now for oppositors of the Congress-approved anti-terrorism bill since it is expected to be sent to Malacañang anytime to President Rodrigo Duterte.

Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III confirmed on Tuesday said he and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has signed the transmittal of the synchronized version of House No. Bill 6875 and Senate Bill No. 1082 or the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 “as an enrolled bill” and will be transmitted to Malacañang within the day.

Sotto said the ball will now be in the hands of President Duterte whether to veto it or sign it into law.

The transmittal came despite more than a dozen congressmen who decided to withdraw their affirmative votes days after its approval last week, after the House leadership decided to adopt the Senate version of the measure, two days after the bill was certified as urgent by the chief executive himself.

Senator Panfilo Lacson said Congress’ passage of the Anti-Terror Bill can no longer be recalled despite the withdrawal of support of some members of the House of Representatives.

“They can (withdraw ng support) sa media, pero sa Congress, hindi,” said Lacson in an interview with CNN Philippines on Monday.

Section 106 of the House Rules states that “When a measure, report or motion is approved, adopted or lost, a Member who voted with the majority may move for its reconsideration on the same or succeeding session. Only one motion for reconsideration shall be allowed.”

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of the main critics of the proposed legislation said the deferral of the House-approved bill is “justified” by those withdrawal and clarification of affirmative votes following the voting last Wednesday

Muntinlupa City Rep. Ruffy Biazon, one of the primary proponents of HB 6875 has rendered a negative vote on his own proposed legislation.

Biazon, senior vice-chair of the House committee on defense shocked his other colleagues after deciding to withdraw his support and authorship on the controversial measure, saying, he was disappointed over the decision of the House plenary to adopt SB 1083.

For Biazon, the Lower House became a mere rubber stamp of the Senate after adopting the upper chamber’s version of the bill.

HB 6875 and SB 1083 both seeks to scrap the Human Security Act of 2007 and impose a much broader policy to strengthen the country’s law enforcement against terrorism.

The proposed act overhauls the current law and defines terrorism as a crime of engaging in acts for the purpose of “instilling fear and seriously destabilizing structures in the country” through causing death and serious bodily harm or injuries to any persons or endangers a person’s life; causing extensive damage or destruction to a government or public facility or public place, or private property; and causing extensive interference, damage, or destruction to critical infrastructure.

The proposed law allows wiretapping and other surveillance methods of suspected terrorists for a maximum period of 90 days—60 days initial and extendible for 30 days.

It also imposes the penalty of life imprisonment without the benefit of parole for acts of terrorism; planning, training, preparing, and facilitating the commission of terrorism; conspiracy to commit terrorism; recruitment to and membership in a terrorist organization; and providing material support to terrorism

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