Duterte defends anti-terror law in UN General Assembly debut speech


Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte defended the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 before the United Nations General Assembly, calling it a crucial “legal framework” to eradicate terrorism.

“The Marawi siege, where foreign terrorist fighters took part, taught us that an effective legal framework is crucial,” Duterte said in his first speech before the international body.

“Our 2020 Anti-Terrorism Act shores up the legal framework by focusing on both terrorism and the usual reckless response to it,” Duterte continued in the pre-recorded video at the Malacanãng Golf Clubhouse in Manila.

“Its enactment was done pursuant to our commitment and the strict adherence to the relevant Security Council resolutions and the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy,’ he added.

Duterte signed the Anti-Terrorism Act on July 3 despite the massive opposition of various sectors over fears that it could be used as a potential state weapon against legitimate dissent.

The law allows the detention of suspects for up to 24 days without charge and empowers an anti-terrorism council to designate suspects or groups as suspected terrorists who could be subjected to arrests and surveillance.

Duterte’s top military and security officials cited the continuing threat of terrorist groups in the country, such as the Abu Sayyaf, as the main reason for the need for the law.

However, local and international human rights advocates, lawyer groups, and even some lawmakers opposed the law which they said might be abused by law enforcers.

Several petitions have been filed before the Supreme Court to challenge the constitutionality of the law. (Source: INQUIRER.net)