Law-abiding citizens should not worry about the implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Wednesday said, stressing the new legislation only intends to protect the country from violent terrorist attacks.
“For the law-abiding citizen of this country, I am addressing you with all sincerity: Huwag ho kayong matakot kung hindi ka terorista,” President Duterte said during his weekly televised address.
“Kung hindi ka naman sisirain mo ang gobyerno, pasabugin mo ang simbahan, pasabugin mo iyong public utilities, pasabugin mo iyong… Well, just to derail para matumba na tuloy ang bayan.”
The new anti-terror law is a much-needed legal weapon that the government can use to fight terrorism, the President said, citing attacks in Mindanao that killed scores of people and threatened peace and order.
Describing the country’s democracy as “a little bit shaky” the President said it’s his obligation to defend and protect the nation from those who intend to destroy it.
He defended his iron-fisted approach to fighting crime and illegal drugs, noting his actions were justified.
The President also took a swipe at the communists, branding them as terrorists because of their continued rejection of government’s call for peace.
“Iyon nga ang problema diyan eh. They think that they are a different breed. They would like to be treated with another set of law. When as a matter of fact, they are terrorist,” he said.
“They are terrorist because we — I finally declared them to be one. Why? Because we — I spent most of my days as a President trying to figure out and connect with them on how we can arrive at a peaceful solution.”
The President also lamented the media’s unfair reporting insisting his government is clean. He challenged the press to dig corruption in the bureaucracy.
On Friday, President Duterte signed into law the Republic Act No. 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, repealing the Human Security Act of 2007.
The law criminalizes acts that incite terrorism “by means of speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems, banners or other representations.”
The law grants the President power to create an anti-terrorism council that could tag individuals and groups as terrorists. It also allows authorities to detain suspected terrorists without charge for up to 24 days.
It also permits the government to conduct 90 days of surveillance and wiretaps. Individuals found guilty of terrorism face punishments that include life imprisonment without parole. PND