AFP wants 30-day detention period vs. suspected terrorist

Marje Pelayo   •   October 2, 2018   •   2779

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) sees a three-day detention for a suspected terrorist as “light”.

Under the Human Security Act, a suspected terrorist can only be detained no longer than three days unless a Court or the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) issues a written approval.

But the military wants it to be 30 days, regardless if a case is filed or not, to give authorities ample time to interrogate or investigate the suspected individual.

A longer period of detention would also deter any potential terror plot especially if later on, the person is proven to have links to terrorist groups.

“We may believe that he is a real bomber,  but because of the mere suspicion we cannot [keep] him detained. The law does not really help the security forces to do their job,” AFP Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvesz Jr. said during the Senate deliberation on the proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill on Monday (October 1).

Being a former military officer, DILG Officer-in-Charge Eduardo Año agrees with the proposal to extend the length of detention of suspected terrorist because he believes that tree days are not enough to extract all pertinent information from a potential terrorist.

“Thirty days would be enough for the security forces to conduct follow up investigation and operations. We do not need to maximize the 30 days. A terror attack can be neutralized within 30 days. Thirty days would just give the security forces a guarantee to be able to do their jobs properly,” Año said.

For his part, Senator Panfilo Lacson explained that to decide on the matter it is necessary to change first the definition of the word “terrorist” in the Human Security Act.

“We need to simply define it as someone who commits the act of terrorism and who has the intent to commit an act of terrorism. That is practical and logical. Because a terrorist does not always have to coerce the government to certain demands,” the Senate Committee on National Defense and Public Order chair said.

Aside from the proposed 30-day detention, the AFP also suggested a 90-day surveillance period from the previous 30 days against suspected terrorist under the Anti-Terrorism Bill. The proposed legislation aims at amending the Human Security Act to give it more power against any form of terrorism.

Lacson noted that the Philippines is among countries in the world with weak anti-terrorism laws. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Joan Nano)

PH gov’t eyeing task force on logistics to support health care workers amid pandemic

Robie de Guzman   •   September 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is looking to create a task force on logistics that would focus on providing the needs of healthcare workers in the country amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. chief implementer of the National Policy against COVID-19, said the task force will monitor the needs of health care workers, particularly those who are experiencing difficulties and discrimination amid the public health crisis.

The task force will also make sure to provide free transportation and accommodation to healthcare professionals.

“At iyon po ay pinag-usapan na rin po namin kahapon sa pamumuno po ni Secretary Vince Dizon na magkaroon po ng tinatawag na iyong ating Task Group on Logistics ay sila po ang titingin sa pangangailangan po na iyon, kasama po ang ating OCD (Office of Civil Defense),” Galvez said.

Healthcare workers are among those on the frontline of the battle against the raging pandemic.

The Department of Health reported that as of Sept. 8, around 7,452 healthcare professionals in the country have tested positive for COVID-19; 40 of them have succumbed to the viral respiratory disease.

Galvez said the provision of healthcare necessities will be funded under the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2).

“Ito pong pondo po na inilaan po natin sa Bayanihan II ay ito po ang gagamitin po natin para sa mga libreng pasakay at libreng accommodations ng ating healthcare workers po,” he said.

Bayanihan 2, which consists of P165 billion stimulus package designed to help struggling sectors cope with the impacts of the pandemic, was ratified by Congress in August.

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to sign the measure this week. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

AFP, PNP form Board of Inquiry to revise operational procedures after Jolo shooting

Marje Pelayo   •   July 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) created a Board of Inquiry that will revise their respective operational procedures following the fatal shooting in Jolo, Sulu. 

According to PNP Chief PGen. Archie Gamboa, one of their main focus will be the cooperation and expansion of their interoperability including the various tactical approaches depending on the security situation in the shooting area.

“To determine operational lapses and how we can improve our operational procedures both the AFP and the PNP,“ the PNP Chief.

Meanwhile, all nine cops involved in the incident were supposed to go to Camp Crame but the trip was deferred. 

One of them contracted coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and is now undergoing quarantine in isolation but still has to take the swab test for confirmation. 

But Gamboa assured that they will be sent to the headquarters anytime this week by Police Regional Office – Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (PRO-BAR) Director PBGen. Manuel Abu.

“Sinabi ko lang sa kanila na: ‘You will go to Crame para ma-diffuse iyong tension and then expect kung ano ang sasabihin ng NBI, hindi ako makikialam.’ So kung meron liable sa inyo, so be it,” Gamboa said. 

[I told them: ‘You will go to Crame to diffuse the tension and expect that whatever the NBI says, I will not intervene.’ If anyone is liable, then so be it.]

“So for the meantime, you will be under the custody ng Philippine National Police” he added.

Gamboa said the President emphatically ordered the PNP to make sure those responsible in the incident will be penalized while the Chief Executive toned down when it came with the Philippine Army. 

Alam nya na may mga sintimiyento lalo na [He knows that there are sentiments especially] on the part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Gamboa said. 

“Sabi pa nga nya, kayo kung ano ang gusto nyong gawin ay pwede nyong gawin but you still have to ponder whether it will do good to the public o to the community [He even said, you just do whatever you want but you still have to ponder whether it will do good to the public or to the community],” he concluded. —MNP (with inputs from Lea Ylagan)

Lacson blasts UN official for calling on Duterte not to sign Anti-Terror bill

Robie de Guzman   •   July 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson has criticized a United Nations official for urging President Rodrigo Duterte not to sign the controversial Anti-Terrorism Bill.

In a statement, Lacson expressed doubt that UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet actually read the provisions of the measure which seeks to strengthen the country’s campaign against terrorism.

Bachelet, in a speech during the 44th regular session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Tuesday, asked Duterte not to sign the bill, warning that its passage heightens concerns on the blurring of important distinctions between criticism, criminality and terrorism. She also warned of the measure’s potential “chilling effect” on humanitarian and human rights work.

Lacson questioned Bachelet’s statement since the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 was crafted based on the guidelines and standards set by the United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC) Resolution 1373.

“It was the UN that prodded the Philippines to strengthen its laws against terrorism. So, is this the United Nations going up against the United Nations?” the senator asked.

“The problem with the critics of the Anti-Terrorism Bill like the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights and the others is that they criticize without even reading the bill itself,” he added.

Lacson said that Bachelet and others opposing the measure are only “jumping into the wagon of criticisms” and have let themselves be influenced by the “avalanche of misinformation” about the bill.

“There are people, learned as they are, merely jumped into the wagon of criticisms without thoroughly reading and understanding the provisions under the proposed measure,” he said.

“All the misinterpretations and misconceptions triggered by an avalanche of misinformation and disinformation that dominated the mainstream and social media platforms have unduly influenced their thinking,” he added.

Congress passed the Anti-Terrorism Bill despite oppositions from various groups.

Some people have been campaigning for the junking of the bill, which they claim can be used to silence the critics of the Duterte government.

Lacson, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, has repeatedly stressed that the bill seeks to stop terrorism and protect people from terrorists.

He also underscored that there is a difference between the “designation” of terrorist individuals, groups, organizations/associations, and “proscription” of terrorist organizations.

“Designation as defined under the bill is a purely administrative process intended to trigger the issuance of a “freeze order” by the Anti-Money Laundering Council,” he said.

“Proscription, on the other hand, needs court intervention that requires due notice and hearing by the Court of Appeals,” he added.

Lacson also reiterated that the bill is a good measure, constitutional, and one that is swift and effective in fighting terrorism.

The senator previously said that he would join protests should authorities commit abuses in implementing measure.

Malacañang earlier said that the bill is now under final review before the president decides if he will veto or sign it into law.

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