REFILE-Duterte's 'draconian' anti-terror bill alarms activists in Philippines

REFILE-Duterte's 'draconian' anti-terror bill alarms activists in Philippines

Reuters  | Jun 02, 2020 22:10

REFILE-Duterte's 'draconian' anti-terror bill alarms activists in Philippines

(Removes extraneous word in paragraph 1)
MANILA, June 2 (Reuters) - Lawyers and human rights
activists in the Philippines have raised the alarm over a new
anti-terrorism bill pushed by President Rodrigo Duterte, warning
of draconian and arbitrary provisions that could be abused to
target his detractors.
Duterte, who has drawn international criticism for his war
on drugs and his human rights record, is trying to expedite the
passage of a law that expands the definition of terrorism and
bolsters police powers of surveillance, arrest and detention.
Opponents of the bill fear it could be used to suppress free
speech and harass those who challenge Duterte, who commands a
legislative majority and influence within the judiciary and
state institutions.
"We think this is against the constitution," said human
rights lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno. "Given the broader definition
of terrorism, the administration's critics could be tagged as
suspected terrorists."
The bill authorises the government to wiretap suspects,
arrest them without warrants and hold them without charge for 14
days, among others provisions.
Opposition lawmaker Edcel Lagman criticised Duterte for
prioritising the passage of a bill he described as "draconian"
over an economic stimulus package pending congressional
approval, which aims to help mitigate the impact of the
coronavirus pandemic.
Duterte was "tightening the noose on suspected terrorists at
the expense of the protection of human rights and civil
liberties," said Lagman who is also a human rights lawyer.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque dismissed the criticism
and said elements of the bill were patterned on those used in
countries that had dealt effectively with extremism.
He said the five-month takeover in 2017 of the southern city
of Marawi by militants loyal to Islamic State showed the extent
of extremist influence in the country.
"Let us not forget, the remains of Marawi is still there,"
Roque said.

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