Philippine senators okay diluted anti-terror bill

Philippine senators approved a watered-down anti-terrorism bill on Wednesday that authorities have long sought to fight al-Qaida-linked militants, but activists said it still could be used to muzzle legitimate dissent. The legislation must be merged with a version passed last year by the House of Representatives before President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo can sign it into law. The Anti-Terrorism bill was renamed the Human Security Act to make it sound more positive, said opposition Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. It was approved by a vote of 15-2. The United States and other Western countries have long prodded the Philippines to enact an anti-terrorism law, citing the presence of al-Qaida-linked militants who have been blamed for deadly bomb attacks, beheadings and kidnappings.