It’s been 13 days since the Anti-Terrorism Bill was submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte for signing. Earlier today, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque stated that the president is expecting the input of his legal advisers this week. Prior to this, he said that the president is “inclined” to sign the law. But what happens if he doesn’t?
A bill left unsigned or isn’t vetoed by the president will naturally lapse into law 30 days after its submission. That means if President Duterte chooses not to act on it by July 9, the Anti-Terrorism Bill will become a full-fledged law.
The bill has faced many criticisms from the public—both local and international—the past few months for its controversial definition of terrorism.
On June 17, former Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio warned that the Philippines may fall into a situation “worse than martial law” should the bill become law. According to his interpretation of the bill, a suspect does not even have to commit a terrorist crime to be arrested. “Under Section 29, the Anti-Terror Council is authorized to order the arrest of any person even if he or she has not committed any crime of terrorism.”
Vice President Leni Robredo also questioned the urgency in “forcing” the bill’s passing amid a global crisis: “There’s too much room for abuse. That’s why we’re firmly against it.” And in the words of international NGO Human Rights Watch, the Anti-Terrorism Bill may very well be “a human rights disaster in the making.”
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Don’t resign yourself to silence yet. Even with the Anti-Terror Bill in the hands of President Duterte awaiting his signature, let’s continue to protest against its threats to human liberties and rights. Here’s what we can still do while waiting for the president’s final decision in hopes that he may veto the bill. #JunkTerrorBillNow #nolisoliph
If you want to challenge the Anti-Terrorism Bill’s passing, send an email to the president via pc[email protected] conveying your concerns regarding the bill. Remember: Amid the protests and email brigades, 20 lawmakers stepped back from the Anti-Terrorism Bill. Your voice is powerful, and it matters a lot more than you think.
Art by Kristine Paz-Yap