Congress Adjourns Today; Senate Okays Anti-Terrorism Bill on 3rd Reading Security Legislation Goes to Bicam Panel

Manila Bulletin, February 8, 2007 | Go to article overview

Congress Adjourns Today; Senate Okays Anti-Terrorism Bill on 3rd Reading Security Legislation Goes to Bicam Panel


Byline: JUDE C. GALFORD III

In a last-ditch effort to beat a three-month recess of Congress today, the Senate approved on third and final reading the Anti-Terrorism Bill (ATB) yesterday.

It is now ready to be tackled at the Bicameral Conference Committee or bicam where the House and Senate versions will be melded together to form its final version for submission to the President for approval.

With a 16-2 vote, the ATB has finally beaten the odds but not without protracted debates on the floor. Its ratification has been eagerly anticipated by its author, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile.

In an earlier interview, Enrile correctly predicted that the measure will be passed before the Chamber takes a lengthy vacation for the May 14 midterm polls. "There is still time, we can pass it this week," he said.

Despite its recent ratification, however, the ATB could still expect rough sailing in the bicam as both Senate and House versions are relatively different.

Although the measure has been accepted by a majority of senators, some continue to question its efficacy in combating terrorism while others see it as a harbinger of increased leverage for the administration to muzzle its critics.

"Under this administration, even a watered-down version of the anti-terror bill may be used to harass political opponents and even militant groups," opposition Sen. Panfilo Lacson said.

Moreover, both Sens. Mar Roxas and Jamby Madrigal expressed concern that not even the new version of the measure will satisfy enough constraints to insulate it from being abused by the administration. …

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