Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Wednesday President Rodrigo Duterte would review the Anti-Terror Bill closer for “public interest” before deciding its fate.
“The President did certify this as urgent, so he agrees with the principal author of the bill, Senator Ping Lacson, that there is a need for the law,” Roque told ANC.
“But let’s just say that the public interest on the bill will make the president review the provisions of the bill even more closer,” he added.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, he and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano signed the bill on Monday night. They submitted it to Malacañang, where officials will review it before making a recommendation to the President.
Roque earlier said the President has 30 days to either sign or veto the controversial measure. If Duterte were not able to decide within that period, the Anti-Terror bill would automatically become law.
The Department of Justice is also reviewing the bill.
Also read: Quick facts: What is Anti-Terror Bill?
Roque also said in the television interview that terrorists “did not stop their nefarious activities” despite the COVID-19 pandemic, as he explained why did the government prioritize the bill over coronavirus measures.
“As a matter of course, the President will not automatically sign a law. It is scrutinized,” he said, but added that there could be no line-item veto in “normal legislation.”
The proposal aims to strengthen further the Human Security Act of 2007 to prevent the spread of terrorism in the country.
“It is declared a policy of the State to protect life, liberty, and property from terrorism, to condemn terrorism as inimical and dangerous to the national security of the country and to the welfare of the people, and to make any terrorism a crime against the Filipino people, against humanity, and against the law of nations,” the bill’s proposed policy stated.
Critics said that there are existing laws that would penalize terrorism acts. The authors of the bill, however, said the Human Security Act of 2007 is weak.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III also said addressing poverty and social injustices would not eradicate terrorism, adding it is an issue of fighting for ideology.