The Philippine government demonstrates its strong stance against terrorism with President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing into law the anti-terrorism bill or Republic Act 11479 Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 on July 3, 2020.
The Global Terrorism Index of 2019 (GTI 2019) ranks the Philippines number 9 among the top ten countries with the highest terrorism impact on economy and society. GTI 2019 reports 3,199 terrorism-related deaths in the country since 2001.
The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 manifests that the Philippine government is standing firm on its position of undertaking strict measures against terrorism while maintaining the respect of human rights, ensuring safeguards against abuse, according to Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.
“With the law, a more discerning mechanism is in place to prevent and deter the threats and dangers posed by terrorists to the Filipino people. The new legislation addresses flaws in the Human Security Act of 2007, which served as a dead letter law and was severely underutilized, and helps advance our country’s national security interests,” Sec. Andanar said in a statement.
Several senators lauded Pres. Duterte for signing into law the anti-terrorism bill despite opposition from various sectors over fears that it could be used to silence government critics.
“Much credit goes to PRRD. With all the pressure coming from different directions against the signing of the Anti-Terrorism Bill into law, at the end of the day, it is his strong political will that mattered most,” Senator Panfilo Lacson, author of the anti-terrorism bill, said in a statement.
With all the safeguards incorporated in the bill, Sen. Lacson said he will “exert extra effort” in guarding against possible abuses in its implementation.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the anti-terrorism law is “full of safeguards” against perceived abuses that may be committed by state security forces during its implementation.
“It’s full of safeguards but strong against terrorists. Unlike the old law, it was subject to abuse by the terrorists,” Sen. Sotto said.
Senator Francis Tolentino said the signing of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 is “timely and historic law needed by our nation.”
“We should all support this measure because it just goes to show that a stable peace and order climate should go hand in hand with economic rejuvenation,” Sen. Tolentino said.