REP. LAWRENCE “LAW” H. FORTUN
Agusan del Norte 1st District
Member for the Minority – Committee on Justice
A lawyer by profession | Mobile number 09177292437
REP FORTUN WANTS ANTI-TERROR BILL SENT BACK TO COMMITTEE, URGES DOJ AND IBP TO RECOMMEND NEW DRAFT BILL TO CONGRESS
There has been a continuous erosion of support for the Anti-Terrorism Bill in the House of Representatives. While only 36 of us voted No, the abstentions are significant and several other members have withdrawn as co-authors and more are asking that their yes votes be withdrawn.
Law deans and professors, legal experts, and law groups have expressed serious reservations about the overly broad, ambiguous, and unconstitutional provisions that threaten fundamental rights and freedoms. There’s a wide and growing clamor on the part of various groups and sectors against the measure.
The issue is dividing our country in the middle of a pandemic. The House of Representatives can still do something. It is ill-advised to transmit the bill in its current version.
I appeal to the leadership and my colleagues in the House to listen to the opinions of experts, the clamor of several sectors, and the sentiments of our very own members.
The no votes, the abstentions, the withdrawal of authorships and the recent withdrawal of yes votes indicate only one thing – the measure suffers from very serious flaws and defects. Should about ten more withdraw their yes votes, the bill already loses majority support in the House.
There are only a few options available to us, but I believe the best option is to have the bill recalled and sent back to the committee where it can be thoroughly reviewed and amended, or where a new but much better version can be crafted and considered.
We can get the position and recommendations of constitutional and legal experts. The House may await Justice Menardo Guevarra to complete his review of the entire bill, so he can submit his recommendations, including a new, constitutional and acceptable version to Congress.
We may also ask the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and University of the Philippines Law Center to lead a multisectoral commission to review the bill and submit recommendations, including a new bill, to Congress.
We all want to fight and end terrorism. We want valid national security concerns effectively addressed. But we cannot allow the enactment of a law that not only countenances, but legitimizes, acts that are clearly violative of the Constitution, and may be weaponized against fundamental rights and freedoms. (END)