Installing Designated Survivor in Phl setting, timely – lawmakers

Maris Federez   •   August 30, 2019   •   764

Senator Panfilo Lacson on Friday voiced out his concern whenever the President, Vice President, senators, House representatives, and members of the Cabinet are together in one event.

“Example, there are extremists or a terrorist bomb at the Batasan and all died. We don’t have a successor,” he said.

That is why the senator believes that it is high time for the country to have a designated survivor, and filed his version of the Designated Survivor Bill.

A designated survivor is chosen and will be tasked to be the leader of the country when government officials included in the line of succession are incapacitated or have died at the same time.

An official who will be chosen to be the designated survivor will be brought to a safe house whenever the President holds a state of the nation address.

In the country’s existing law, included in the line of succession after the President is the Vice President, the Senate President, and the House Speaker.

 “After the Speaker of the House, we will continue the line of succession by naming the most senior member of the senate in terms of number of years. At kung naubos pa rin lahat ng senador, yung most senior member of the House of Representatives. Kung maubos parin ang lahat ng member ng House of Representatives [And when no one is left in the Senate, it will be the most senior in the House of Representatives. And when one is left in the House of Representatives], the President will now designate a Designated Survivor from among the members of the cabinet,” Lacson explained.

Meanwhile, on her version of the said bill in the House, Quezon City Representative Precious Hipolito-Castelo proposed that the Designated Survivor must be from the President’s Cabinet.

 “The absence of a leader can lead to lawlessness and disorder and, worst, anarchy,” the lady lawmaker said.

She stressed the need for a designated survivor, saying it will prevent the country from going into chaos in case the leaders perish.

Senator Lacson admitted that he was inspired to file the Designated Survivor Bill after watching the popular American TV series bearing the same title which revolves in the life and challenges of being the Designated Survivor.

U.S. law provides that a Designated Survivor is installed in office when the President, Vice President, and other officials come together in a gathering, such as the State of the Union Address, Presidential inauguration and during Congress Joint Session.

“Kapag naisabatas ito maraming hindi a-attend ng SONA [Once this is passed, many will not attend the SONA],” the senator quipped. (from the report of Grace Casin) /mbmf

Senate OKs proposed new anti-terror bill on second reading

Robie de Guzman   •   February 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Wednesday approved on second reading a bill that seeks to strengthen the country’s fight against terrorism.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, who authored and sponsored the bill, said Senate Bill 1083 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 seeks to provide “a clear, concise, balanced and rational anti-terrorism law that adheres to regional and international standards.”

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

“With (Senate Bill 1083), we can be sure that whether the terroristic act is committed here or abroad, the perpetrator shall be within the arms of the law once he or she comes to our country,” said Lacson, who chairs the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security.

He also said that the new anti-terror bill seeks to repeal the existing Human Security Act of 2007, which “did virtually nothing to deter participation in the plotting of terroristic acts.”

The measure 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.

“As a responsible member of the community of nations, we are duty-bound to improve our laws to ensure that we can implement UN Security Council Resolutions, meet international standards, and fulfill state obligations with the United Nations,” Lacson said.

The measure proposes the establishment of Philippine jurisdiction over Filipino nationals who may join and fight with terrorist organizations outside the Philippines.

It would also ensure 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.

“We send a strong message to them: You are not welcome here. If you dare set foot in our country, you will be dealt with the full power of our laws,” Lacson said, adding that the penalty of life imprisonment without the benefit of parole will be meted out to them.

The bill also removed the provision on payment of P500,000 damages per day of detention of any person acquitted of terrorism charges.

But the number of days a suspected person can be detained without a warrant of arrest is 14 calendar days, extendable by 10 days.

Despite being a tougher anti-terror law, Lacson assured the measure has enough safeguards against possible abuses by arresting officers and that amendments were crafted to ensure that the rights and wellbeing of the accused individuals or suspected terrorists inside jail facilities are protected.

The bill also introduced a new provision, designating certain Regional Trial Courts (RTCs) as Anti-Terror Courts, to ensure the speedy disposition of cases.

The use of videoconferencing for the accused and witnesses to remotely appear and testify will also be allowed under the measure.

The bill also provides for the police or the military to conduct 60-day surveillance on suspected terrorists, which may be lengthened to another non-extendable period of 30 days, provided that they secure a judicial authorization from the Court of Appeals (CA).

Any law enforcement or military personnel found to have violated the rights of the accused persons shall be penalized with imprisonment of 10 years, the senator said.

To allay concerns of possible excesses by the authorities, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) shall be notified in case of detention of a suspected terrorist.

The measure also mandates the CHR to give the highest priority to the investigation and prosecution of violations of civil and political rights of persons and shall have the concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute public officials, law enforcers and other persons who may have violated the civil and political rights of suspects and detained persons.

PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty now reduced to mere paper treaty after VFA termination – Lacson

Robie de Guzman   •   February 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the Philippines and the United States “will now be reduced to a mere paper treaty” with the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Senator Panfilo Lacson said Tuesday.

“Like it or not, bad or good, nothing much can be done now but do a 180-day countdown upon receipt of the notice by Washington,” Lacson said in a statement.

“What is certain is that the 1951 PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty will now be reduced to a mere paper treaty as far as the US is concerned,” he added.

Lacson made the statement after the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) signed and sent a notice formally scrapping the VFA to the United States.

The MDT was signed by Washington and Manila in 1951 where both parties agreed to support each other in case of an armed attack.

The VFA, on the other hand, came into force in 1999. It outlines the guidelines about the treatment of their troops when visiting the US or the Philippines.

It includes provisions on visa and passport policies for US troops and the American government’s right to retain jurisdiction over its personnel, among others.

The deal may be terminated by either of the two countries by writing to the other party signifying their intent to end the agreement. Its expiration will come 180 days from the date of notification.

“Having said that, there’s no more intelligence information sharing in our fight against domestic and foreign terrorist acts, no more US military aid and financing that accounts for a good 52% of what they extend to the whole Asia-Pacific region,” Lacson said.

“That may not include other intangible economic benefits and security from external threats in the West Philippine Sea, as well as humanitarian aid in times of disasters, epidemics and other crises,” he added.

Lacson and other senators earlier filed a resolution asking President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider his plan to scrap the VFA while the Senate reviews it.

Duterte in January threatened to terminate the deal following the US’ move to cancel the visa of his ally, former National Police chief and now Senator Ronald Dela Rosa.

Robredo has always been willing to help in Duterte’s drug war — OVP spokesman

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 2, 2019

Vice President Leni Robredo has always been open to helping the Duterte administration in its war against illegal drugs, according to the Office of the Vice President (OVP) Spokesperson Atty. Barry Gutierrez.

In a statement, Gutierrez said that as early as 2016, Robredo had engaged with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and other agencies to suggest ways to improve the country’s anti-drug campaign.

“Her inputs were not acted on, and the admin excluded her from further discussions soon after,” he said.

Gutierrez also said, President Rodrigo Duterte should just talk to the vice president properly if he is seeking assistance with curbing the illegal drug problem in the country.

“Kung humihingi na ng saklolo ang Pangulo sa usapin ng ‘drug war’, daanin lang sana sa maayos na usapan—hindi sa text, hindi sa palabas sa media, (If the president is asking for help with the “drug war” he should do so through proper discussion—not through text or media),”he added.

The OVP spokesperson reiterated that what the vice president will not stand for is being made a “scapegoat” for all the alleged shortcomings of the administrations’ drug war.—AAC

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