By Aaron Recuenco
Defense and military officials were elated by the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 in the third reading at the Senate.
In a statement, the Department of National Defense (DND) said that once Senate Bill No. 1083 is enacted into law, it would improve the Department’s capability to run after terrorists and terror groups both local and foreign.
“The DND fully supports the passage of a law that will empower our defenders to protect our people against those who wish to do them harm,” said the DND in a statement.
“It is the Defense Department’s position that a stronger legislative measure against terrorism will enhance our defenders’ capacity to make our communities safer and more secure.”
The new anti-terror bill expanded the description of terrorism and extended the time authorities can detain a terror suspect from 36 hours to 14 days, extendable to 10 more days.
Two opposition senators voted ‘no’ on the bill, saying the bill could be weaponized to run after critics and political enemies of the ruling party.
For his part, military spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said the bill would “empower and capacitate the AFP and other government security forces in their campaigns to protect and secure our people against the global menace of terrorism.”
“The AFP is grateful to the Senate that they heeded our call for a more stringent law that confronts and defines terrorism and what constitutes it, among other new and amendatory provisions it contains,” Arevalo said.
“We assure our countrymen that aside from sufficient safeguards already enshrined in the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act and the Bill of Rights embedded in the 1987 Constitution, the AFP recommits fidelity to the promotion of human rights and international humanitarian law.”