DAVAO CITY – A number of local chief executives in Davao Region (Region 11) have expressed their support Tuesday on the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, describing the measure as "timely and constitutional."

Jose Abad Santos, Davao Occidental Mayor Jason John Joyce said the bill -- awaiting the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte -- will protect Filipinos against the threats of terrorism.

“As the efforts of the government to address the issue of communist terrorist groups (CTGs) through good governance (ELCAC) gain momentum, it would also be helpful to have a law that would complement the program,” Joyce said.

Still, Joyce said sufficient legal provisions should be in place to safeguard the citizen's basic human rights and freedoms such as the freedom of free speech and peaceful assemblies" as enshrined in the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

Sto. Tomas (Davao del Norte) Mayor Ernesto Evangelista, meanwhile, said the bill would provide an "environment that would secure our people from any form of domestic and foreign terrorist attacks."

Evangelista said it was "high time" for the government to "exercise its duty and right to strengthen a counter-terrorism legislative measure aimed to protect every Filipinos from the barbaric and brutal effects of terrorism."

“I am of the opinion that it will complement the peace and development efforts contained in President Rodrigo Duterte's Executive Order (EO) 70, which seeks to institute a whole-of-nation approach in addressing communist insurgency in Davao Region,” Evangelista said.

Mayor Eutropio Jayectin of Montevista in Davao de Oro, on the other hand, characterized the bill as a "cure-all antidote against any form of terroristic activities diabolically perpetrated by the CTGs."

Jayectin noted that for several decades, the atrocities perpetrated by the communist New People's Army (NPA) persist "despite the intensive campaign done by the government just to entice them to return the fold of the law."

For Mati City, Davao Oriental Mayor Michelle Rabat, terrorism has already "destroyed countries" such as Syria and Iraq and has already made their presence known in the Philippines, citing the Marawi siege in 2017.

Rabat said it is timely that the country "put more teeth" on the Human Security Act of 2007 through the strengthened provisions of the Anti-Terror Act of 2020.

The country, she said, "cannot fight the terrorists with kid gloves."

“Terrorism has no place in a society like ours. We abhor the wanton disregard for the sanctity of life. We believe that a democratic country like ours should never give an inch of a chance for terrorists to breed. Thus, we fully support the bill for we are confident that under the Duterte administration, this controversial bill can never be abused,” Rabat said. (PNA)