Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday gave assurances the Anti-Terror Bill, approved on third reading, would not be used as a tool to commit human rights violations as it provided all the needed legal safeguards.
Lacson told the Kapihan sa Senado: “Yes everything has legal procedures that should be followed. They cannot just conduct electronic surveillance or whatever kind of surveillance if [there is] no permission from the court.
“In fact, the intervention is not only in the Regional Trial Court according to Senator Franklin Drilon but also elevated to the Court of Appeals in getting judicial authorization to conduct surveillance.”
But the militant group Karapatan denounced the approval, calling the said measure a monster legislation that would provide a pretext for de facto martial law in the Philippines.
Karapatan said, the bill, laden with what it called the same vague definitions of the crime of terrorism as well as draconian provisions that would certainly violate the people’s constitutional rights and civil liberties, would not solve the root causes of terrorism.
Karapatan said it would only redound to graver human rights violations against communities, groups and individuals that might lead to crimes against humanity.
“We have witnessed how the powers of the State and its security forces have been used to trample on basic rights and fundamental freedoms. We have no doubt, that especially under the Duterte administration with an anti-terror legislation, such powers will be used with impunity against critics and political dissenters to preserve the current oppressive status quo,” Karapatan said.
Even proscription under the current law—RA 9732—Lason noted the RTC would proscribe under the Human Security Act.
“But in this proposed measure, he said it would also be elevated to the Court of Appeals, the reason being, due to many RTCs—and I agreed with Senator Drilon—the issuance of order of proscription might be abused,” explained Lacson.
“Remember, there is a feature here that it is not only proscription per se but there’s preliminary order of proscription, this is like TRO, within a certain period of time...it can be members were listed after due process is observed, they can be arrested and jailed temporarily within a reglamentary period of 14 calendar days,” Lacson added.
The proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 would provide a strong legal backbone to support the country’s criminal justice response to terrorism, provide the law enforcers the much-needed tools to protect the people from the threat of terrorism, and at the same time, safeguard the rights of those accused of the crime.
“We need a strong legal structure that deals with terrorism to exact accountability, liability and responsibility. Those who have committed, are about to commit, or are supporting those who commit terroristic acts should be prosecuted and penalized accordingly,” said Lacson, sponsor of the measure.
The measure includes a new section on foreign terrorist fighters to cover Filipino nationals who commit terrorist offenses abroad.
Senate Bill 1083 introduced provisions imposing life imprisonment without parole on penalizing those who will propose, incite, conspire, and participate in the planning, training, preparation and facilitation of a terrorist act; as well as those who will provide material support to terrorists, and recruit anyone to be a member of a terrorist organization.
Under the bill, any person who shall threaten to commit terrorism shall suffer the penalty of 12 years. The same jail term will be meted against those who will propose any terroristic acts or incite others to commit terrorism.
Any person who shall voluntarily and knowingly join any organization, association or group of persons knowing that such is a terrorist organization, shall suffer imprisonment of 12 years.
The same penalty shall be imposed on any person found liable as accessory in the commission of terrorism.
The measure not only establishes Philippine jurisdiction over Filipino nationals who may join and fight with terrorist organizations outside the Philippines but also ensures that foreign terrorists do not use the country as a transit point, a safe haven to plan and train new recruits for terrorist attacks in other countries.
Senators Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Pia Cayetano, Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Grace Poe, Imee Marcos, Manuel “Lito” Lapid, Joel Villanueva, Cynthia Villar, Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, Win Gatchalian, Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, Richard Gordon, Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, Bong Revilla, Francis “Tol” Tolentino, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Majority Leader Migz Zubiri and Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III voted in the affirmative while Senators Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros dissented.
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