There will be no need to again declare martial law in Mindanao as the Senate will pass the Anti-Terrorism Act to address the insurgency issues in the south, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Wednesday.
He supported President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision not to extend military rule in the area.
“I’m sure there will be pros and cons on the issue from Mindanao, but we can assure them that we will pass the Anti-Terrorism Act that will give the government more teeth in the area and so martial law will no longer be necessary,” Sotto told reporters.
Under the proposed measure, any “attack that cause death or serious bodily injury to any person” may be considered terrorism.
Suspected terrorists can be arrested without warrant and detained for up to 14 days.
A Senate panel earlier recommended the passage of tougher anti-terrorism policies ahead of Duterte’s expected rejection of a fourth extension of martial law in Mindanao.
“So doon sa mga nag-aalala dahil wala na ang martial law, ‘wag sila mag-alala dahil ‘yung anti -errorism act ipapasa namin,” Sotto said.
Former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV earlier slammed the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act, saying it would “most likely be used as another tool of oppression.”
Trillanes blasted the government proposal to amend the anti-terrorism law, but Sotto said the Senate’s version had “all the needed safeguards” to protect the law from possible abuse.
“Hindi naman sila basta-basta aarestuhin ng kahit na sino. Kailangan they should go through the normal legal process,” he said.