Lagman urges Cayetano not to transmit anti-terror bill to Duterte yet

After several lawmakers withdrew their yes votes for the anti-terror bill, opposition lawmaker Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman urged Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano not to sign the enrolled anti-terror bill yet while constitutional questions remain.

"My call for Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano not to sign with alacrity the enrolled bill on the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 is further justified by the withdrawal of some representatives of their affirmative votes as well as the clarification of their conditional yes votes," Lagman said in a statement on Saturday, June 6. 

In the initial tally on Thursday, June 4, when the House of Representatives passed the bill on 3rd and final reading, 173 lawmakers voted yes, 31 voted no, and 29 abstained.

But 5 lawmakers who were initially counted in the yes votes turned out to be in the no votes, so the official tally on Thursday became 168-36-29. Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr, the presiding officer, cited "technical errors" in the recording of electronic votes.

On Friday, June 5, Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda withdrew his yes vote, and instead abstained, making it 167-36-30.

Salceda cited provisions that were "inconsistent with human rights and the 1987 Constitution," such as the authorization of the Anti-Terror Council to order the arrest and detention of suspected terrorists as opposed to court warrants, and the extension of warrantless detention from 3 days to as long as 24 days.

In the Constitution, under the provision authorizing the president to declare martial law, the  privilege of the writ of habeas corpus can be suspended but all people arrested without warrants must be brought to court in 3 days. (READ: EXPLAINER: Comparing dangers in old law and anti-terror bill)

"This representation hopes that the pertinent provisions can be refined," said Salceda.

Because the House and Senate versions are the same, the bill need not go through a bicameral committee and becomes an enrolled bill which will be transmitted straight away to Malacañang for President Rodrigo Duterte's signature. (READ: ‘Terror law’: The pet bill of the generals)

But to be transmitted, the enrolled bill must be signed by the House Speaker, Senate President, and the secretary-generals of both chambers.

"This deferral of the enrolled bill’s transmittal would afford both the House of Representatives and the Senate to make their own respective reviews of the measure to cleanse it of constitutional infirmities," Lagman said. (READ: Mindanao lawmakers: Anti-terror bill will further incite violence, not end terrorism)

Salceda, for his part, also said, "Without a bicameral conference, there will be no opportunity for House members to help address the abovementioned reservations."

Duterte will have to sign the bill to be passed into law, unless he decides to veto it.

If the President does not act on it after 30 days of receipt, the bill will lapse into a law.

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.