DILG backs bid to amend Human Security Act to fight terrorism

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019   •   363

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has expressed support for proposals to amend the Human Security Act of 2007, particularly the longer wiretapping and detention period in a bid to improve the government’s capacity to fight terrorism.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said terrorism is a coordinated crime mounted over time and can be countered through calculated strategies and intelligence efforts. He believes an extended wiretapping and detention period will advance the government’s anti-terrorism campaign.

“We are facing new and old terrorism challenges. To meet this challenge, our laws must adapt as well to the changing security environment,” he said in a statement released on Tuesday.

Año, a former intelligence chief and chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said that based on experience, countering terrorism is “massively different” from battling other crimes.

“Investigating terror groups or individuals can be tedious, hence, requires time and the proposed extension of wiretapping and detention period can definitely boost the government’s counterterrorism efforts,” he said.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier recommended broadening the permissible wiretapping and detention period at a joint public hearing of the Senate committees on national defense and security and on finance.

The Human Security Act’s current provisions stipulate a 30-day approved wiretapping period that can be extended or renewed by the authorizing Court of Appeals and shall not exceed 30 days from the expiration of the original period.

Lorenzana is looking to extend this period to 90 days, as well as increase the detention period of suspected terrorists under a warrantless arrest from 36 hours to up to 60 days.

Año said there are already safeguards in the law that address the concern that it may be abused by law enforcers. 

“The HSA is in place to ensure that no abuse will take place. At natitiyak ko na kung mangyayari ang pagbabago sa nasabing batas, mas paiigtingin pa ang pagsiguro na hindi ito maaabuso,” he said.

The DILG chief added that according to Section 7 of the Human Security, only upon a written order from the Court of Appeals can law enforcers perform wiretapping operations.

Section 18 of the same law also states that any police or law enforcer authorized in writing by the Anti-Terrorism Council and has taken custody of a suspected terrorist must deliver the said person to the proper judicial authority within three days since his arrest.

“The current administration will not allow abuse in the HSA to happen. Sa kasalukuyang porma ng HSA, may mga safety nets na pinaiiral. With the proposed amendments, respect for human rights is ensured,”Año said.

The DILG is part of the Security, Justice and Peace Cluster of the Duterte administration spearheading the modification of the Human Security Law.

98% of residents in 14-kilometer danger zone evacuated —DILG

Maris Federez   •   January 20, 2020

Sylvestre Barba (C) listens to a radio inside an evacuation center for citizens affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano in Santo Tomas, Batangas, Philippines, 15 January 2020. EPA-EFE/MARK CRISTINO

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) announced that authorities have evacuated almost all of the residents in the 14-kilometer radius danger zone of the Taal Volcano.

DILG Sec. Eduardo Año said they have already evacuated 98-percent of the residents as evacuation measures are still being done for those who have yet to respond to the government’s call to leave their homes.

Año thanked the police, military and other law enforcement agency personnel for maintaining order in the affected areas in lockdown and where total evacuation is being implemented.

The official also said that they have yet to receive reports of looting and that zero-casualty is being maintained in the affected areas of the Taal eruption.

“The three cases reported in media were mainly due to the pre-existing medical condition and not directly related to the eruption,” Año said. — (with details from Lea Ylagan) /mbmf

DILG: Business establishments in Tagaytay City still not allowed to operate

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 20, 2020

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said business establishments in Tagaytay City are still not allowed to operate due to the level 4 alert status in the Taal region.

The DILG said establishment who are caught operating within the 14-kilometer danger zone of the Taal volcano might have their business permit revoked or suspended.

“No commercial establishments until or unless this issue of alert level 4 has been downgraded,” according to DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing.

Densing also said that the DILG might coordinate with the Philippine National Police (PNP) to close establishments proven to be operating within the 14-kilometer danger zone.

Tourists are also discouraged to visit Tagaytay City.

“We are discouraging, actually, tourists or locals to go up to Tagaytay kasi nasa alert level 4. Mamaya pag-akyat nila baka sumabog, makakadagdag pa sila sa tutulungan o poprotektahan (because it is in alert level 4. It [volcano] might erupt and the tourist might be added to the people needed to be rescued),” he said.

READ: Danger remains as volcanic activities increase in Taal

Meanwhile, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHOVOLCS) said they cannot just lift or downgrade Alert Level 4 due to the possibility of a massive explosive eruption within hours or days remains high .—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

DILG urges public to heed warning, respect Taal Volcano 14-km danger zone

Robie de Guzman   •   January 16, 2020

A man rides a horse on a street covered in volcanic ash in Talisay, Batangas, Philippines, 16 January 2020. EFE/EPA/MARK R. CRISTINO

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday called on the public to abide by the 14-kilometer radius danger zone of Taal Volcano following reports of residents attempting to return to their homes in the wake of the eruption.

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año urged the public “not to risk their safety and their lives”, heed warnings, and to follow the mandatory evacuation order issued by local authorities.

“Sumunod po tayo sa mandatory evacuation recommended by Phivolcs and imposed by the DILG. Pahalagahan ang kaligtasan at buhay ninyo bago ang inyong ari-arian,” he said.

“Sumunod po tayo sa mga autoridad at manatili sa mas ligtas na lugar habang hindi pa natatapos ang pag-aalboroto ng Taal Volcano,” he added.

Among the areas with villages within the 14-kilometer danger zone are Agoncillo, Alitagtag, Balete, Cuenca, Laurel, Lemery, Lipa City, Malvar, Mataasnakahoy, San Nicolas, Sta. Teresita, Taal, Talisay and Tanauan City, all in Batangas; and Tagaytay City in Cavite.

The DILG earlier issued an order for mandatory evacuation in 199 villages in 15 municipalities and towns in Batangas and Cavite which have been identified as susceptible to ballistic projectiles, base surges, and volcanic tsunami as a result of the eruption.

Based on the list provided by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), 213 villages in Batangas are susceptible to base surges; 28 barangays in Cavite are exposed to a possible ballistic projectile, and 124 barangays in Cavite and eight in Laguna may experience a possible volcanic tsunami.

The DILG said that as of Thursday, evacuation efforts have been undertaken in 179 villages in both Batangas and Cavite, while mandatory evacuation works are ongoing in the rest of the villages. Only 10 percent of the residents remain to be evacuated.

DILG Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya also said that the Philippine National Police (PNP) has created a perimeter task force and set up checkpoints in all entry points to enforce the lockdown imposed in various areas in Batangas.

A special anti-looting task force was also deployed to danger zones to ensure that their properties are secure.

“We want all our evacuees to have peace of mind so we have police officers on patrol in the evacuated barangays to ensure that criminals will not take advantage of this tragedy,” he said.

Malaya also reiterated that the volcano island is strictly off-limits to residents but residents may coordinate with disaster officials if they want access to the high-risk areas.

“LGUs may allow, on a case to case basis, access to the high-risk areas but this has to be done in coordination with local disaster officials and is dependent on prevailing conditions,” he said.

The DILG earlier ordered the PNP and other concerned agencies to stop anyone from attempting to return to Taal Volcano island.


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