Anti-Terror Bill Passed by Congress, Awaits Duterte's Signature

The House of Representatives has just approved House Bill (HB) 6875 otherwise known as the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 on its third and final reading. This means that the bill which President Rodrigo Duterte himself certified as urgent just a few days back is now up for his signature.

Under the bill, terrorism is defined as an act carried out by a person within or outside the Philippines that endangers a person's life or causes damages or destruction to a government facility or private property.

Once this is passed into law, anyone who threatens to commit terrorism, proposes any terroristic acts, or incites others to commit terrorism will suffer an imprisonment sentence of 12 years. Those who voluntarily join any group knowing that the said group is a terrorist organization will also be given the same sentence.

Meanwhile, suspected terrorists can also be detained without an arrest warrant for 14 days and allowed a maximum extension of 10 days. Those who will recruit others to join, commit, or support any terrorist group will suffer a life sentence without parole.

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The bill also removes the provision on payment of amounting to P500,000 per day in damages for the detention of any person acquitted of terrorism charges.

Congress' statement reads: "The measure amends the Human Security Act of 2007 to make it more responsive to the threats of terrorism in the country. It also enumerates the prohibited acts of a terrorist and foreign terrorist fighter, regardless of the stage of execution. These acts include planning, training, and facilitating the commission of terrorism; conspiracy to commit terrorism; recruitment to and membership in a terrorist organization; and inciting to commit terrorism."

A total of 173 representatives voted in favor of the bill while 31 voted against it and 29 others abstained. This decision was made on the final reading just a day after HB 6875 got the second approval.

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