Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Wednesday called for quick passage of a tough anti-terrorism law by Congress. The House of Representatives' committees on justice and foreign affairs voted Tuesday to approve an anti-terrorism bill based on several earlier versions, with debate by the full chamber expected to start next week. "I hope that this will soon pass not only in the House but also the Senate," Arroyo said on government television. "So many people, ordinary citizens, soldiers and police, have died in the hands of terrorism, and it is time to cut it down while it is trying to spread its tentacles in many countries.
A group of lawmakers supporting the legislation said in a statement that they were moved to approve the bill by last weekend's terror bombings in Bali, Indonesia, adding: "We do not have to wait for bigger terror attacks to convince us on the immediacy and indispensability of this law."
Zachary Abuza, a terrorism expert and senior fellow of the U.S. Institute of Peace, warned that the country would always be a terror target by Muslim extremists because they believe the Philippine government has repressed the Muslim minority and view the south "as part of their caliphate."
"The Philippines has been wracked by terrorism going back to the mid-1990s, and sadly, this is something that you have to learn to live with and this is something that you're going to deal with a lot more in the future," he told ANC television, reports the AP. I.L.