Proposed law includes provisions allowing for people to be held for longer without charge.
The Philippine Congress moved closer on Monday towards enacting a new anti-terrorism law that would allow longer detentions without charge, and give the executive branch more power against dissent, raising alarm among rights groups and the opposition.
The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 has been approved at the committee level and members of the House of Representatives are expected to debate and fast-track its approval before they go on a two-month break from June 6.
The Senate approved a similar proposal earlier this year, with only two members dissenting. Both chambers of Congress are controlled by allies President Rodrigo Duterte, whose administration has been pressing for the quick passage of the bill. On Monday, Duterte sent a letter to the Speaker certifying the bill as “urgent”.
By passing a bill identical to the one approved by the Senate, members of the House of Representatives skirt a longer process of reconciling the two versions and cutting the time to debate and question the merits of the law.
Among the most contentious provisions include the warrantless arrest and 14-day detentions of suspected “terrorists”, and the creation of an anti-terror council that would determine what is terrorism and order arrests without a warrant – a function usually reserved for the courts.
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