Lacson tells IBP Anti-Terrorism Council has no judicial power; bill will combat terrorism in ‘swift, constitutional manner’

Robie de Guzman   •   June 17, 2020   •   460

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson has clarified the “misconceptions” of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) about the controversial proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Lacson said the measure aims to combat terrorism in a “swift, effective, and constitutional” manner.

In a letter-reply to IBP president Domingo Egon Cayosa, Lacson addressed the IBP’s concerns about the provisions of the bill, including the establishment of the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC).

“The Anti-Terrorism Bill speaks clear of our swift, effective, and constitutional policy against these acts of terror and against no one else but its perpetrators,” he said.

Lacson, who authored and sponsored the bill, also pointed out in his letter-reply that arrests cannot be made based on mere suspicion alone.

Lacson said the legislative intent was to allow warrantless arrests based on Rule 113, Section 5 of the Revised Rules of Court. The Senate deliberations of the bill never showed any intention to add another element to an arrest without warrant.

Hence, a warrantless arrest remains valid only in the following cases: (a) when the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense; (b) when an offense has just been committed, and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it; and (c) when the person to be arrested is an escaped prisoner.

He also noted in his letter-reply that “the authority in writing does not pertain to an order of arrest.”

“The ‘written authorization’ of the ATC is intended to be issued to duly designated deputies, i.e., law enforcement agents or military personnel specially tasked and trained to handle the custodial investigation involving violations of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 as proposed, considering the complexities and nature of terrorism,” he said.

Lacson, who chairs the Senate committee on national defense and security, added that Section 29 is premised on a valid arrest without warrant that complies with Section 5 of Rule 113, meaning the arrest is “immediate in nature.”

“With this, it is illogical and impractical that the ATC will issue an order of arrest to a law enforcement officer who is already authorized to conduct warrantless arrest under the Revised Rules of Court,” he said.

“Thus, I wish to overemphasize this to clarify all misconceptions on the alleged expansion of coercive power of ATC: ATC has no power to order an arrest.”

He also emphasized that the ATC has no authority to determine the period of detention in the case of warrantless arrest and decide on its extension.

“If the ATC has no authority to order the arrest, much more does it have the authority to determine the period of detention of the person arrested,” he said.

He likewise stressed that the proposed period of detention of up to 14 days and its extension by another 10 days is to be treated as a policy decision of Congress “after considering the unique nature and effects of the crime of terrorism as thoroughly explained during our public hearings and in plenary session.”

Still, he said, the determination of extending the suspect’s detention for another ten days “remains with the courts.”

He also maintained that the proposed 14-day period of detention of suspected terrorists is “reasonable and sufficient” especially in events similar to the Marawi Siege, the 9/11 suicide bombings, and the gruesome beheading of people by ISIS.

“We need not wait for similar events to occur before we realize that a three-day investigation is not enough,” he said.

The senator also said the bill does not authorize law enforcers to arrest, conduct surveillance or restrict travel, adding that the Anti-Money Laundering Council may issue a freeze order toward the property and funds of a designated terrorist.

Lacson also said that Section 45 of the bill is unequivocal in saying that “nowhere herein shall be interpreted to empower the ATC to exercise any judicial or quasi-judicial power or authority.”

“To properly interpret the nature of the power of the ATC, it would be erroneous, if not careless to rely on reading Section 29 alone. The rule on statutory construction says that the law must not be read in truancy parts, rather, its provisions must be read in relation to the whole law,” he said.

He stressed the power of the ATC to designate in Section 25 is not judicial in nature, but is an executive and administrative process, to impose targeted financial sanctions pursuant to the framework under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1371.

“Arrests, detention, and the limitation on travel are not the intended consequences of designation,” he noted.

“Let me reiterate that designation is a preventive measure intended to trigger the issuance of a freeze order to prevent designated terrorists from accessing funds that can be used to carry out a terrorist attack,” he added.

“I hope that this letter was able to shed light on the legislative intent with respect to some of the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Bill that are being subjected to wrongful interpretations and misconceptions,” Lacson said.

The senator sent the letter in response to the IBP’s warning against possible “constitutional infirmities” in the proposed Anti-Terrorism bill.

Lacson urges gov’t to revisit use of PITC as procurement arm

Robie de Guzman   •   November 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson has called on the government to look into its practice of using the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC) as a procurement arm.

Lacson said utilizing the PITC for procurement requirements of several national government agencies may have to be “revisited and stopped” to “save on unnecessary expenses amounting to billions of pesos in delays and commissions or service fees.”

The senator also questioned the PITC’s existence, saying that the agency may have “outlived its purpose.”

“Since the creation of the Government Procurement Service under the Department of Budget and Management, the PITC may have outlived its purpose,” Lacson said in a statement on Monday.

“Initially, it was only used to circumvent the procurement of medicines, especially for emergency needs. But later, it has expanded into the procurement of other items like rice,” he added.

Some senators earlier pointed that that the practice of using PITC to procure items only allowed departments to make it appear that their budgets had been obligated.

It was recently tapped to be the state’s procurement arm for COVID-19 vaccines tentatively pegged to amount to over P70 billion through loans.

Lacson said that it would be prudent that the government at least “take a long hard look” at the involvement of the PITC in the procurement of vaccines.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon earlier said he would push for a Senate inquiry into the books of the PITC after voicing out suspicion that billions of government funds were “parked” at the PITC.

He said government agencies usually use the services of PITC when they are supposed to purchase products, and “pass on the budget there so that they will say that these are already obligated when in fact they are just deposited.”

Warrantless arrest, may limitasyon sa IRR ng anti-terror law – ATC

Robie de Guzman   •   October 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – May limitasyon ang pagsasagawa ng warrantless arrest sa ilalim ng mga panuntunan ng bagong Anti-Terrorism Act, ayon sa Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC).

Sinabi ni ATC spokesperson, Undersecretary Adrian Sugay na sa ilalim ng implementing rules and regulations (IRR) ng batas, hindi maaaring gamiting batayan ang “mere suspicion” o hinala lamang sa pag-aresto ng walang kaukulang warrant of arrest .

Ayon kay Sugay, nakasaad sa IRR na dapat may probable cause o matibay na batayan upang mang-aresto ang mga otoridad.

Posible lang din aniya ito kung ang isang indibidwal ay nahuli sa aktong gumagawa ng krimen o kaya may “hot pursuit” o kaya ay tumakas ito sa bilangguan.

“Ang posisyon namin d’yan the way we interpret, is that it should be interpreted in relation to Rule 113 of the warrantless arrest. It can be reasonably interpreted that any arrest based on section 29 is has to be based on probable cause,” ang wika ni Sugay.

Nakasaad rin aniya sa IRR na obligadong magsumite ng affidavit sa ATC ang mga law enforcer upang makakuha ng pahintulot bago isagawa ang pag-aresto sa anomang suspek.

Sa ilalim ng batas, maaaring idetine ng dalawang linggo hanggang 24 na araw ang isang naarestong indibidwal.

Sa kabila ng ginawang pagtitiyak ng ATC, plano naman ng Bayan Muna Party-list na maghain ng petisyon sa Korte Supreme upang kwestuyunin ang nilalaman ng IRR para sa Anti-Terrorism Act.

Hihilingin din nila sa korte na maglabas ng temporary restraining order (TRO) para itigil ang pagpapatupad ng batas.

“Pag-aaralan ng makabayan bloc especially inilabas na itong IRR kung magsasampa ng petisyon to nullify and declare unconstutional itong IRR or just a supplemental petition,” ang pahayag ni Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate.

Sa ngayon ay aabot na sa 37 petisyon ang naka-hain sa Korte Supreme laban sa kontrobersiyal na batas. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Dante Amento)

ATC approves IRR for Anti-Terrorism Law

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 14, 2020

The Anti-Terrorism Council has approved the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, according to Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra.

Guevarra said they will provide Congress and law enforcement agencies copies of the IRR. They will also release a copy online and in other publications.

“We will disseminate copies to Congress and to law enforcement agencies as required under the law, and will publish the IRR online and in a newspaper of general circulation in the next few days,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the law last July 3 which repeals the Human Security Act of 2007.

The DOJ started drafting the IRR of the law last August.

Meanwhile, there are currently 30 petitions filed before the Supreme Court requesting to halt the implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Law questioning its constitutionality.

The Office of the Solicitor General, however, has already asked the high tribunal to dismiss the petitions. -AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

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