Duterte signs anti-terrorism bill into law — spokesman

July 3, 2020 - 7:05 PM
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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, wearing a military uniform, reviews scout ranger troops upon his arrival during the 67th founding anniversary of the First Scout Ranger regiment in San Miguel town, Bulacan province, north of Manila, Philippines November 24, 2017. (Reuters/Romeo Ranoco/File Photo)

MANILA — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday signed into law a tough new anti-terrorism act, his spokesman said, pushing ahead with controversial legislation that critics fear will be used to target his opponents and stifle free speech.

The law grants police and military sweeping powers to tackle security threats, but legal experts had warned its overly broad articles could open the door to discriminatory enforcement, privacy infringements and suppression of peaceful dissent.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque confirmed the bill has been signed when asked by reporters on Friday.

The anti-terrorism act, which Duterte, 75, fast-tracked through both houses of Congress during the coronavirus outbreak, has been widely condemned by human rights groups. The United Nations’ human rights chief earlier this week urged Duterte not to pass it in its current form.

—Reporting by Karen Lema; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Ed Davies