February 7, 2007
After numerous amendments to place safeguards against abuse
After ensuring that the anti-terrorism bill will not be used to abuse human rights by placing as many safeguards as possible, the Senate finally passed on third reading Senate Bill 2137 or the act to secure the state and protect our people from terrorism with a vote of 16-2 on Wednesday (February 7).
Finally, the Senate has approved its own version of the anti-terrorism bill which hopefully will really stop terrorists on their tracks. The safeguards that we have put in place, we hope will ease the fears of human rights advocates and the general public as well, says Villar, who is the principal author of the measure.
The bill is principally sponsored by Senator Juan Ponce Enrile. It was filed in October 2005 and certified as urgent by Malacañang on the same month. It has been in the backburner for over a year because of clamor from many legislators and concerned groups to insert various amendments to the original version in order to protect the people lest the measure will be abused by authorities.
Villar cites, The reason why the bill took a long time in getting the senators nod is precisely because we want to make sure that no human right will be trampled upon by the provisions of the bill. I am confident that we have tied up whatever loopholes there are.
Among the major amendments to the anti-terrorism bill are: the decrease, from 15 days to three days, the number of days a terrorist suspect can be detained without court warrant or formal charges; the increase in the amount of compensation or damages from P50,000 to half a million pesos for each day of detention, that will be given to persons wrongly arrested or detained as terrorist suspects by law enforcement authorities; the bill will only take effect two months after the May 14, 2007 national and local elections; among others amendments.
According to Villar, There have been many clamors for the Philippines to pass an anti-terrorism law because we are among the few countries which still dont have one despite our participation in the global fight against terrorism. Now the 13th Congress succeeded where other congresses failed in finally legislating an anti-terrorism law. A bill on anti-terrorism has been filed as far back as the 10th Congress.
The anti-terrorism bill is co-authored by Senators Panfilo Lacson, Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon Magsaysay Jr., Alfredo Lim, Bong Revilla and Joker Arroyo.
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