Philippine senator to UN rights chief: Anti-terror bill follows UN standards; read it first


Philippine Senator Panfilo Lacson challenged UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to read the anti-terrorism bill first before urging President Rodrigo Duterte not to sign it into law, saying the bill was promulgated at the behest of the UN.

“We crafted the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 based on the guidelines and standards set by the United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC) Resolution 1373. It was the UN that prodded the Philippines to strengthen its laws against terrorism,” Lacson said in a statement.

“So, is this the United Nations going up against the United Nations?”

“The problem with the critics of the Anti-Terrorism Bill like the UN High Commissioner (for) Human Rights and the others is that they criticise without even reading the bill itself,” he added.

In a speech delivered during the 44th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Tuesday, Ms. Bachelet asked Duterte not to sign the controversial bill.

Ms. Bachelet had said that the passage of the measure “heightens our concerns on the blurring of important distinctions between criticism, criminality and terrorism.”

The anti-terror bill seeks to amend and repeal the Human Security Act of 2007 (HSA) and punish those who will propose, incite, conspire, participate in the planning, training, preparation, and facilitation of a terrorist act; including those who will provide material support to terrorists, and recruit members in a terrorist organization.

Senator Lacson further stressed that the anti-terror measure is crafted to fight terrorists, adding that the bill “is not meant to be beneficial for anyone else but the Filipino citizenry.”

“I have repeatedly said to those who choose to be deaf: The anti-terrorism bill is crafted to fight against terrorists and not against protesters,” he said.

The senator, one of the principal authors of the bill, once again dismissed fears that the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC), which would be created under the measure, could authorize the arrest of suspected terrorists.

“To be clear, the written authority issued by the ATC under Section 29 of the proposed bill is to be directed to its duly designated deputies such as law enforcement agents and military personnel specially tasked and trained to handle the ‘custodial investigation’ involving violations of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 as proposed, considering the complexities and nature of terrorism,” Mr. Lacson explained.

“Not all police officers are trained interrogators and investigators, especially involving a crime as complex and complicated as an act of terrorism. These specially-trained law enforcement officers and military personnel shall need a written authority to be deputised by the ATC to perform such tasks,” he added.

The controversial proposed bill, which has been met with widespread opposition over fears that the measure could spur human rights violations and suppress dissent against the government, is waiting to be signed into law by President Duterte.

Malacañang said the bill is now with the Office of the Executive Secretary for final review before being handed to the president’s office. (Source: