DND welcomes Senate assurance to pass stiffer anti-terrorism law

Robie de Guzman   •   December 12, 2019   •   387

Filipino soldiers on top of a military truck celebrate in the ruined city of Marawi, southern Philippines, 17 October 2017.  EPA-EFE/JOEFREY MAITEM

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense (DND) on Thursday welcomed the Senate’s assurance to pass tougher anti-terrorism law.

In a statement, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana expressed gratitude to the Senate for heeding their call to amend the provisions of the Human Security Act in an aim to better capacitate and empower government troops to counter-terrorism.

“We at the DND are happy with the reassuring pronouncement of Senate President Vicente Sotto III that they will pass the bill into a law expanding the definition of terrorism among other amendments,” Lorenzana said.

The Defense chief has been pushing for the amendment of the Human Security Act of 2007 to ease restrictions on surveillance and extend the lawful detention period of suspected terrorists to 30 days from the current three days.

Under the proposed measure, the Senate wants to prolong the detention period to 14 days for terror suspects.

“While we are batting for a 30-day period of detention for suspected terrorists to allow the government to build its case, the period of 14 days in the Senate’s proposed amendment is far better than the maximum 3 days under the present Human Security Act,” Lorenzana said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also lauded Senate’s commitment to passing stiffer anti-terrorism law.

“We thank the Senate for taking concrete steps toward amending the Human Security Act to better capacitate and empower government security forces to combat terrorism,” AFP Spokesperson, Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said.

“The Filipino people stand to benefit from the passage of this new law that shall address the myriad, complex, and global threat of terrorism— not only in Mindanao where Martial Law terminates on 31 Dec 2019 – but the rest of the country,” he added.

Sotto on Tuesday assured the passage of the bill seeking to strengthen the country’s anti-terrorism law to prevent future attacks.

Senate Bill 1083, sponsored by Senate committee defense chairman Senator Panfilo Lacson, is currently being discussed in plenary at the period of interpellation.

Duterte certifies as urgent bill seeking to toughen PH anti-terror law

Robie de Guzman   •   June 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has certified as urgent a bill that seeks to strengthen the country’s anti-terrorism law.

In a letter to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday, Duterte certified as urgent House Bill No. 6785, which seeks to amend and toughen the Human Security Act of 2007.

In his letter, Duterte said the immediate enactment of the measure is to “address the urgent need to strengthen the law on anti-terrorism in order to adequately and effectively contain the menace of terrorist acts for the preservation of national security and the promotion of general welfare.”

The House Bill reportedly adopted the Senate version which passed on third and final reading in February.

Under the bill, anyone who threatens to commit terrorism, propose any terroristic acts or incite others to commit terrorism shall mete out a penalty of 12 years of imprisonment.

It also introduces provisions penalizing those who will propose, incite, conspire, 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 members in a terrorist organization.

The measure also includes a new section on foreign terrorist fighters to cover Filipino nationals who commit terrorist offenses abroad.

It also aims to provide law enforcers the much-needed tools to protect the people from terrorism threat and, at the same time, safeguard the rights of those accused of the crime.

Once a bill is certified as urgent, the Senate and the House of Representatives can immediately pass a measure on second and third reading on the same day.

Rights advocates had earlier warned that the bill’s enactment would worsen the human rights situation in the country.

Navy confirms BRP Ramon Alcaraz fire

Maris Federez   •   May 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines— The Philippine Navy has confirmed the fire incident that took place onboard BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS16) on Thursday night (May 7) just a few hours after it departed Port of Cochin, India bound for Manila.

In a statement issued on Friday, the Navy said the vessel was in convoy with BRP Davao del Sur (LD602).

Naval Public Affairs Office Acting Director, LCdr. Maria Christina Roxas, said initial investigation showed that the fire that broke at the main engine room was put out in 10 minutes but injured two personnel with second degree burns and caused minor damage in some equipment.

“This unfortunate incident could have been worse if not for the promptness of our PN personnel in responding to the fire incident. We recognize the gallant efforts of our personnel in responding to the emergency situation in spite of the dangers involved. Rest assured that the safety and welfare of our personnel is of paramount importance,” Roxas added.

One of the two sailors who were injured in the fire is now receiving treatment in an Indian medical facility, while the other is in sickbay aboard the vessel.

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana, in a statement released on Saturday, said the vessel has returned to Cochin, India, reaching the port under its own power and unassisted as it only sustained minor damage.

He added that the US Navy’s Naval Systems Command (NAVSEA) will assist in the repair of the BRP Alcaraz since the vessel was acquired from the US.

“We will also use existing diplomatic mechanisms and our defense cooperation agreement with India to facilitate and expedite work on the ship so that it can return to the country in the shortest time possible,” Lorenzana concluded. —/mbmf

PH-US military drills within 180 days of VFA scrapping to push through — Lorenzana

Robie de Guzman   •   February 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The military exercises between the Philippines and the United States scheduled for the following months will still push through despite the Duterte government’s move to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Thursday.

In a statement, Lorenzana said the training between Filipino and American soldiers will still proceed as scheduled within the 180 days that the VFA remains in force.

“With the formal serving of the notice of termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement, this year’s planned military exercises with the Americans shall proceed as scheduled within the 180 days that the VFA remains in force,” he said.

The Defense chief, however, said American troops may opt to discontinue the exercises before the 180 days are up.

Once the VFA’s termination is final, Lorenzana said Filipino troops will stop conducting military drills with their American counterparts.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Wednesday confirmed that they have received the notice of termination sent by the Philippine government. — RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

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