Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson defended the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 which he principally authored, arguing that the provisions are constitutional.
Since the widespread opposition against the bill’s passage in the 18th Congress last week, Lacson had voiced out his ire against the critics and stressed that the anti-terror bill adhered to the Bill of Rights of the Constitution.
“The Anti-terrorism Act of 2020 aims to secure our country and protect our people from domestic and foreign terrorists like the Abu Sayyaf and the ISIS. As author and principal sponsor, I made sure that it adheres to the Bill of Rights as enumerated in the 1987 Constitution,” Lacson said on June 4.
During the same week, big names in the entertainment industry, including Nadine Lustre, Kathryn Bernardo,Heart Evangelista and Catriona Gray, as well as some international personalities, including Bretman Rock and Darren Criss joined the calls to scrap the controversial measure.
Several House representatives started backing out their support but Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday informed reporters that he and House Representatives Alan Peter Cayetano have placed their signatures on the bill and transmitted a copy of it to the Palace.
It is now up for President Rodrigo Duterte‘s signature.
On Monday, Lacson called out the lawmakers who withdrew their support for the bill.
Ano ang tawag sa mambabatas na bumoto ng pabor sa isang panukalang batas na hindi muna niya binasa at pagkatapos ay umatras sa pagsuporta sa parehong panukalang batas nang hindi pa rin niya binabasa?
— PING LACSON (@iampinglacson) June 8, 2020
Lacson’s arguments on Twitter
On June 10, Lacson also denounced the dissenters of the bill anew, noting that their focus now is on its implementation.
“Many of those opposing the anti-terrorism measure have now shifted their aim to target the implementation. They have mastered the art of argumentation,” Lacson said.
“When you run out of sound reasons to argue, just say: BASTA!” he added.
Many of those opposing the anti-terrorism measure have now shifted their aim to target the implementation. They have mastered the art of argumentation – when you run out of sound reasons to argue, just say: BASTA!
— PING LACSON (@iampinglacson) June 10, 2020
However, critics of the anti-terror bill, have been expressing their opposition against the implementation of the proposed measure since February.
With the Senate’s passage of an Anti-Terrorism Bill amending the Human Security Act of 2007, the ball is now on the Lower House—where six counterpart bills are pending at the House public order and safety committee.
— Philip Jamilla (@pmjamilla) February 27, 2020
Lacson also reacted to the recent statement of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, one of the most influential law groups in the country, which urged Duterte to review and veto some of its provisions.
He picked up IBP’s view on the power of the Anti-Terrorism Council, which the bill mandates to implement its provisions, in his tweet.
Part of IBP’s statement read:
“The Integrated Bar of the Philippines focuses on whether or not the Anti-Terrorism Bill (ATC), can ‘authorize in writing’ the ‘taking into custody’ of terrorism suspects (ATB, Section 29) which under the 1987 Constitution is exclusively a judicial power.”
Lacson countered it with: “No, sir! It is ONLY to request the AMLC to freeze the accounts and the CA to issue an order to wiretap, NOT arrest.”
IBP: If the ATC designates you as a terrorist or terrorist organization, based on probable cause, that is a signal and excuse now for law enforcers to arrest,..xxx
NO SIR! It is ONLY to request the AMLC to freeze the accounts and the CA to issue an order to wiretap, NOT arrest.
— PING LACSON (@iampinglacson) June 9, 2020
Prior to this, on June 8, the senators also slammed that critics might be aspiring to top the countries with the most deaths due to terrorism.
He cited the 2019 Global Terrorism Index wherein war-torn countries Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, and Nigeria are at the top five.
“Are we aspiring to be number 1 on the list by registering more deaths in the hands of domestic and foreign terrorists? If the answer is yes, then junk the anti-terror bill.” Lacson said.
Are we aspiring to be number 1 on the list by registering more deaths in the hands of domestic and foreign terrorists? If the answer is yes, then junk the anti-terror bill. pic.twitter.com/91EVxxMQ6G
— PING LACSON (@iampinglacson) June 8, 2020
IBP to Duterte: Review the bill
In a statement shared on Facebook on June 9, IBP cited the provisions in the bill which its members deemed questionable and could possibly be subjected to abuse.
- The arrest or detention of a person suspected of committing terrorist acts without a judicial warrant.
- The period of detention is extended from 10 to 14 days as also stated in the same section.
These are also among the provisions that other civic organizations and legal groups previously objected to.
“We call attention to the possible UNCONSTITUTIONALITY
and avoid muddling it with issues of “wisdom”, trust, preference, labeling, and motherhood statements,” IBP said.
They then urged Duterte to carefully review and veto these questionable provisions. They have also sent their concerns via a letter to Cayetano and Sotto.
“We hope that the Office of the President will further review the ATB and veto the constitutionally questionable provisions as President Rodrigo Roa Duterte had done in the past,” IBP said.
“IBP will exhaust all avenues, with due regard to everyone and their mandates, to keep the ATB within the bounds of our Constitution,” they added.