As lawmakers change votes, Malacañang yet to receive anti-terror bill
MANILA, Philippines – The controversial anti-terrorism bill only needs President Rodrigo Duterte's signature to become law, but according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, lawmakers have yet to transmit the highly divisive measure to Malacañang.
Roque gave the update in a press briefing on Monday, June 8, when asked to comment on lawmakers' moves to withdraw their yes votes.
"For as long as the bill has been clearly approved, then we expect the bill to be transmitted to Malacañang. Pero sa ngayon po, wala pa pong natatanggap ang Malacañang (But as of now, Malacañang has not yet received anything)," Roque said.
The bill hurdled the House of Representatives last June 3, two days before Congress adjourned, following Duterte's certification of the measure as urgent. (READ: 'Terror law': The pet bill of the generals)
The last vote count announced at the House plenary session on June 4 saw 168 lawmakers voting yes to the measure, 36 no, and 29 abstain. The count was corrected from an earlier record of 173 yes, 31 no, and 29 abstain on June 3, when the House passed the bill on 3rd and final reading.
House Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr, the presiding officer, cited "technical errors" in the initial recording of electronic votes.
Since then, however, a few lawmakers have expressed intention to change their votes. Among them were Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda and Bulacan 3rd District Representative Lorna Silverio, who switched from voting yes to abstaining.
Congress is now on break and the House has yet to release the official breakdown of how lawmakers voted. (READ: EXPLAINER: Comparing dangers in old law and anti-terror bill)
Will public be heard?
Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman and Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate earlier urged House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano not to sign the enrolled anti-terror bill yet.
The lawmakers pointed out that constitutional questions remain, while some lawmakers are still changing their positions or clarifying their vote that was incorrectly recorded. (READ: Mindanao lawmakers: Anti-terror bill will further incite violence, not end terrorism)
To be transmitted, an enrolled bill must be signed by the House speaker, Senate president, and the secretary-generals of both chambers. In the case of the anti-terror bill, there is no need for a bicameral conference committee as the House adopted the Senate version of the measure which was passed in February.
Asked if the public outcry against the bill would be considered by Duterte, Roque said the bill will have the President's backing so long as it would benefit majority of Filipinos.
"The President is always guided by what is best for the country. Wala naman desisyon na walang tumututol talaga. Basta ito ay makakatulong sa mas nakakarami sa atin, susuportahan 'yan ng Presidente (No decision faces no objection. As long as this helps the majority, the President will support it)," he said. – Rappler.com