Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senator Panfilo Lacson has expressed the need for Congress to come up with a new anti-terror law in order to deal with external and internal terrorism threats amid the government’s termination of the Philippines-United States Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and self-reliance on the military.
Sotto, who is the principal author of the proposed Anti-Terror Act of 2020, and Lacson, chairman of the Senate Committee on National Defense, who sponsored the measure, said there is an urgent need for lawmakers to update the existing Anti-Terror law.
Sotto said this will give the military and defense agencies more teeth in addressing the growing threat of terrorism to the country, especially in Mindanao.
He said their colleagues at the House of Representatives can come up with their own version of the measure, or adopt the version that was approved by the Senate on third reading last Wednesday, February 26.
“I believe our colleagues from the House understands the urgency of this bill to be enacted into law. I hope that they come up with their own version the soonest time possible so we can reduce the risks to the lives of our people,” Sotto said.
For his part, Lacson said it is high time the Philippines became proactive in fighting the threat of terrorism, and the bill approved by the Senate by a 19-2 vote last Wednesday would be a great help toward this end.
Lacson added the Senate version of the bill, which under his sponsorship underwent rigorous interpelation from his colleagues, contains safeguards against possible abuse.
“With this measure, we will become proactive in the fight against terrorism. We will finally have the needed legislative tools to send the message to terrorists both local and foreign that they are not welcome here,” Lacson said./Stacy Ang