Hundreds of activists in the Philippine capital staged protests Friday against a proposed anti-terror law they say could be used to quash dissent, ignoring police threats that they could be arrested for violating coronavirus restrictions against large public gatherings.
The Anti-Terror Act, which Congress has sent to President Rodrigo Duterte to sign into law, allows the detention of suspects for up to 24 days without charge and empowers a government anti-terrorism council to designate suspects or groups as suspected terrorists who could then be subjected to arrests and surveillance.
Military officials have cited the continuing threat of terrorism, including from Abu Sayyaf militants, as reasons the law is needed.
Opponents say the legislation violates the constitution, which restricts detention beyond three days without specific charges, and could be misused to target government critics.
Military officials back the law.