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Philippine anti-terrorism law is truly terrifying

Controversial legislation is tantamount to a usurpation of judicial power by the executive

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Philippine anti-terrorism law is truly terrifying

Members of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers protest against attacks on judicial independence outside the Philippine Supreme Court in Manila in this file photo. (Photo: Daniel Perez)

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On July 3, President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law a controversial anti-terrorism bill despite criticisms and calls for it to be scrapped by legal luminaries, civic groups and church authorities.

The law took effect on July 18, some 15 days after its publication on the Official Gazette website. Publication is a requirement in Philippine law before a law or statute becomes effective.

At present, there are 19 petitions from various groups filed with the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the new law.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has released a pastoral statement describing the country’s political situation as a “bleak political landscape.” The bishops said they were staggered by the manner in which the anti-terrorism law was fast-tracked and approved by lawmakers.

“The dissenting voices were strong but they remained unheeded. None of the serious concerns that they expressed about this legislation seemed to be of any consequence to them [government leaders],” said the bishops.

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