Manila, Jul 3 (efe-epa).- Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte signed a controversial anti-terrorism law on Friday amid criticism from opposition parties and human rights groups that it is an attempt to persecute political activism and silence dissent.
The House of Representatives passed the bill a month ago and it was approved by the Senate in February and became law on Friday.
Some critics have compared the legislation to the controversial Hong Kong national security law imposed by China.
The new law expands the range of crimes attributable to terrorism, such as threatening to commit or inciting terrorist acts, punishable by 12 years in prison, a provision that according to legal experts seeks to punish dissenters, since terrorism could be classified as any protest against the government.
It has replaced the Human Security Act of 2007 with amendments that include an extension of the time a suspected terrorist can be detained without an arrest warrant from three days to 24.
The legislation also allows a committee made up of government officials and security forces to issue arrest warrants, rather than courts, which some experts have decried as unconstitutional.
Edre Olalia, secretary-general of the country’s National Union of Lawyers, said: “We will exhaust all legitimate processes to break this draconian law.
“It is the most unpopular and dangerous legislation that a government obsessed with power can promote.”
Retired supreme court senior associate justice Antonio Carpio said many of the provisions in the legislation violate the country’s constitution.
He has promised to launch an appeal against the law in the supreme court, together with a group of other legal professionals.