Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan criticized the government over the timing of pushing the controversial anti-terror bill.
In a statement on June 2, Pangilinan said that many people were suffering already because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the government should look after them instead of focusing on passing the said bill.
“Terrorized na ang mga kababayan natin dahil sa COVID-19, ang nakakamatay at nakakahawang sakit. Mas na-te-terrorize pa dahil sa kawalan ng trabaho at hanapbuhay na dulot ng iba’t ibang klase ng lockdown na pinataw sa ating mamamayan at ekonomiya,” Pangilinan said.
“Pagtuunan ng pansin ang mga walang masakyang public transport ngayong GCQ, ang mass testing at contact tracing, at pagbangon ulit ng ating kabuhayan,” he added.
The opposition senator even asked if the terror bill would save the whole country from the pandemic.
“Whole of government di ba? Heal as one di ba? Gamot ba ang panukalang batas sa COVID-19 o gagamiting panakip-butas sa mga kapalpakan?” he said.
“Paano pigilan ang paglaganap ng COVID-19 at paano ibangon ang nakadapa nating ekonomiya ang bigyan ng panahon at solusyon, huwag ang anti-terror bill.” he added.
Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros also reacted on the recent developments of the anti-terror bill.
“COVID-19 ang kalaban, pero itong anti-terrorism bill ang isinalang,” Hontiveros said.
“Valid at dapat pakinggan ang concerns ng publiko tungkol sa bill. Ang hiling nila ay maayos na programa para sa kanilang kaligtasan laban sa kinakaharap nating pandemic. Hindi ba dapat nandoon ang prayoridad natin?” she added.
Pangilinan and Hontiveros were the only senators who voted against the measure because they believe that the bill might be misused.
The said bill would change the definition of acts of terrorism in the Philippines.
If passed, causing destruction of public properties, developing weapons, and those who will participate in planning with terrorists would be now considered as an act of terrorism.
New People’s Army was declared as a terrorist organization by the government in 2017.
Meanwhile, Senator Sotto defended the bill, saying that only the terrorists and their supporters should be afraid.