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Anti-terrorism bill didn’t originate from the President, says Roque

As the controversial anti-terrorism bill is just a signature away from becoming a law while protests against its passage mount, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the measure did not originate from President Rodrigo Duterte.

“‘Wag niyo pong kalimutan na hindi naman ito nanggaling sa Presidente. Hindi [rin] naman ito hiningi ng Presidente,” Roque said in an interview on Dobol B sa News TV.

The anti-terrorism bill, which seeks to replace the Human Security Act, the country's existing law against terrorism, is being reviewed by Malacañang after it was passed by Congress amid concerns on some of its provisions.

Critics have said that the proposed law may empower the government to go after legitimate dissent. They have also warned against the up-to 24-day warrantless detention period for suspected terrorists, and the alleged authority of the Anti-Terrorism Council, a body created under the law, to authorize in writing the arrest of terrorism suspects.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, who authored the bill, has refuted the latter concern.

Duterte has the option to sign it into law, veto it, or not do anything for 30 days and just allow it to automatically lapse into law.

Roque said presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo has already finished reviewing the bill, but it will still be reviewed by the executive secretary and the Department of Justice.

The Palace official said it is impossible for the President to veto the measure since he certified it as urgent.

“Tignan niyo na lang ang mga personalidad sa likod ng batas na ito kung mapagkakatiwalaan ba sila o hindi... sina Senator [Vicente] Sotto at Lacson,” Roque said. —Ted Cordero/KG, GMA News