House approves Anti-Terror Bill on 3rd reading in divisive 173-31 vote; 29 abstain

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The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved the Anti-Terrorism Bill on third reading on Wednesday night in a highly divisive vote despite strong opposition to the measure on social media and in protests in the streets.

The chamber voted 173-31 to pass House bill 6875. Some 29 lawmakers abstained from voting.

The House approved the bill on second reading on Tuesday night. The version was identical to Senate Bill 1083 which was passed in February.

Because the two versions are identical, the Senate and the House need not meet in a bicameral conference to reconcile their bills, allowing them to ratify the bill and to transmit it to Malacañang for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.

The controversial bill toughens the penalties against terrorists and those suspected of conspiring to or planning to commit it. It allows warrantless arrests and detention of suspects for a period of 14 days extendible by 10 more days, and removes the P500,000 per day fine on erring officials.

Critics of the bill warned that the bill could be used to attack critics of government and stifle free speech.