President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said law-abiding citizens of the country should not fear the anti-terrorism law.
“For the law abiding citizen of this country, I am addressing you with all sincerity. ‘Wag ho kayong matakot kung hindi ka terorista,” Duterte said in his nationally-televised address aired past midnight.
“Kung hindi mo sisirain ang gobyerno, pasabugin mo ang simbahan, pasabuhin mo ‘yong public utilities just to derail, matumba tuloy ang bayan,” he said. “[O]nce you blow up yung simbahan, blow up mo ‘yong market place… the right to defend itself accrues to the government heavily.”
Duterte said he expected that the newly-signed law, which seeks to strengthen the country’s anti-terrorism campaign, will be challenged before the Supreme Court.
He stood pat that the country needs the legal weapons to fight terrorism in the country.
"Ang terrorism, hindi ito isa, dalawang putok as what happened in Mindanao and other places. Ang ginagamit kasi nito nila ay bomba. Ang bomba niyan, sa lahat, maski sa simbahan may tama o may bukol," he said.
Addressing his critics from the communist group, Duterte said, "They think they are a different breed, they would like to be treated with another set of law when as a matter of fact, they are terrorists.”
“I spent most of my days as President trying to figure out how to connect to them, on how we can arrive at a peaceful solution, wala naman gustong may gyera, ako ayaw ko . . .it was good rapport while it lasted. . . . there is always a time to be friendly and a time to be firm,” the chief executive said.
On Friday, Duterte signed the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (Republic Act 11479) despite objections from various groups, including the United Nations human rights body and the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.
The bill, which seeks to replace the Human Security Act, the country’s existing law against terrorism, has drawn criticisms because it allegedly contained provisions that may be used to stifle dissent.
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 of the Anti-Terrorism Council, a body created under the law to authorize in writing the arrest of terrorism suspects.
Moreover, the bill also removes the existing P500,000 a day penalty on police officers who will detain suspects eventually acquitted of the crime.
A group of lawyers and former Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro on Saturday filed via electronic filing a petition challenging the constitutionality of the anti-terror law. They physically filed the document on Monday morning.
Meanwhile, a group of Far Eastern University law professors with their dean Mel Sta. Maria and Albay Representative Edcel Lagman also filed on Monday their petitions against the newly-signed anti-terrorism law.
Other groups are expected to challenge the law, including retired SC Justice Antonio Carpio, who previously said he will join a petition. —LDF, GMA News