Lacson urges public not to believe disinformation drive, says Anti-Terror bill adheres to PH Constitution

Robie de Guzman   •   June 5, 2020   •   807

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson has urged the public not to believe the “massive disinformation campaign” being waged by critics of the Anti-Terrorism Bill as he stressed that the measure aims to secure and protect the public from indiscriminate terrorist acts.

“Terrorism knows no timing nor borders. Some of our country’s policy-makers, especially our people, should know better than just criticizing and believing the massive disinformation campaign against a measure that can secure and protect us as well as our families and loved ones from terrorist acts perpetrated in a manner so sudden, least expected and indiscriminate – as in anytime, probably even today, tomorrow or next week,” Lacson said in a statement Thursday.

Lacson, the main champion of Senate Bill 1083 or the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, said the measure adheres to the Philippine Constitution and he has been mindful of the Bill of Rights when he held public hearings and argued for the bill on the Senate floor.

“When I conducted the public hearings and sponsored the bill on the Senate floor last year up to February when it was approved on third and final reading, I was always mindful of the Bill of Rights enshrined in the 1987 Constitution,” he said.

Lacson, who chairs the Senate committee on national defense, said he incorporated in the bill most of the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism laws of other strong democracies like Australia and the United States, “further guided by the standards set by the United Nations.”

“With the help of many of my colleagues who interpellated and proposed their individual amendments, including all the members of the minority bloc, I was more than accommodating to accept their amendments as long as we would not end up with another dead-letter law such as the Human Security Act of 2007, which has so far resulted in just one conviction after more than a decade of its implementation and just one proscribed terrorist organization such as the Abu Sayyaf Group,” he said.

Among the bill’s provisions that critics are opposing to is the 14-day reglementary period of detention without judicial warrant, saying this may be abused by the authorities.

But Lacson pointed out that the measure adopted the “shortest time” of 14 days compared to other countries in region like Thailand with up to 30-day reglementary period of detention; Malaysia with up to two years; Singapore at 720 days extendible to an indefinite period of detention without formal charges; and Indonesia, up to 120 additional days.

The senator also assured that safeguards have been put in place to ensure the rights of those detained.

Senate Bill 1083 seeks to repeal the existing Human Security Act of 2007 and to provide a “strong legal backbone to support the country’s criminal justice response to terrorism.”

The measure also seeks 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.

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

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.

Under the bill, the penalty of 12 years of imprisonment will be meted by any person who:

  • Threaten to commit terrorism
  • Propose any terroristic acts or incite others to commit terrorism
  • Shall voluntarily and knowingly join any organization, association or group of persons knowing that such is a terrorist organization
  • Found liable as accessory in the commission of terrorism

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, extendible by 10 days.

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

The amendments also provide for the police or the military to conduct a 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 measure also mandates the Commission on Human Rights 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.

The bill has been approved by the Senate in February, and adopted by the House of Representatives.

It is now up for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature, despite criticisms and fears of more human rights abuses once it is enacted into law.

“To the critics, I dare say: I hope the day will not come when you or any of your loved ones will be at the receiving end of a terrorist attack, so much so that it will be too late for you to regret convincing the Filipino people to junk this landmark legislation,” Lacson said.

Lacson, Pangilinan slam Parlade over comment against reporter

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 5, 2021

Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr.

MANILA, Philippines—Senators Panfilo Lacson and Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan criticized Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Southern Luzon Command Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. for his comment against a journalist.

Parlade claimed that the journalist is aiding terrorist groups which drew ire from various groups, lawmakers, and netizens.

Lacson, in a statement, called Parlade’s remarks as ‘careless and insensitive.’

“Accusing a journalist of ‘aiding the terrorists by spreading lies,’ assuming that such comment was accurately attributed to him, surely does not help the government to convince the magistrates of the Supreme Court to rule in its favor,” he said.

Meanwhile, Pangilinan believes Parlade should be removed from office because of his unprofessionalism.

“Enough of this unprofessionalism and lack of discipline with such baseless, erroneous public statements. Like AFP Intel Chief Luna, Lorenzana should show Parlade the door,” Pangilinan said in a statement.

In a post on social media Parlade accused reporter Tetch Torres-Tupas of “aiding terrorists by spreading lies” after Tupas published an article on jailed Aetas. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Lacson seeks simplified process for entry of donated COVID-19 vaccines

Robie de Guzman   •   January 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Friday sought simplified procedures for the entry of donated COVID-19 vaccines, especially those with emergency use authorization (EUA) from countries or territories with stringent regulatory agencies.

Lacson made the call during the third hearing of the Senate, convening as a Committee of the Whole, on the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

“This is critical because there are many associations abroad that may donate vaccines to their sister cities in the Philippines. Would it not be more practical to ensure the goods reach the intended recipients directly under strict supervision and guidance by health authorities, instead of coursing the goods through the Department of Health and having the DOH distribute them?” he said.

“Besides, many local government units like Baguio City already have their own cold storage facilities for the vaccines, as their local leaders had the foresight to act accordingly. Allowing such donated vaccines to go directly to the LGUs instead of having to go through the logistical requirements of the DOH and Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 would also avoid the prospect of double handling and additional costs,” he added.

Lacson pointed out that the pandemic involves an emergency where authorities cannot afford to have vaccines go through the bureaucratic processes that could delay its distribution.

In response to Lacson’s recommendation, Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said they will make the necessary simplification of processes. They may also conduct a time and motion rehearsal in the logistical process.

“Tama kayo, Sir. Yan din ang gagawin namin. Kaya magkakaroon ng time and motion rehearsal para in case capable ang LGU, pwede idiretso para wala nang double handling,” Galvez told Lacson.

Lacson accepts Galvez’s apology over ‘politicizing’ remark on COVID-19 vaccine issue

Robie de Guzman   •   January 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday said he has accepted the apology of vaccine czar and National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. for his previous remark accusing some senators of politicizing the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

“I accepted his apology. He promised to be more careful in issuing statements,” Lacson said in a statement.

The senator said Galvez apologized during a meeting with him, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senator Ronald dela Rosa, and contact tracing czar Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong on Wednesday.

But prior to their meeting, Lacson said he received a message from Magalong, relaying Galvez’s request to meet with him to apologize for his remarks during virtual meeting last week.

“He also promised to brief me and disclose all the details of their vaccine procurement, including the prices of the different brands,” he said.

“Then came the instruction of President Rodrigo Duterte to Sec. Galvez to brief Senate President Vicente Sotto III. I suggested to them that SP Sotto and I just go together, along with Sen. Ronald de la Rosa,” he added.

During the meeting, Lacson said that Galvez was able to clarify “a lot of issues and concerns raised by senators that have remained unresolved until last night.”

“We advised him to explain in tomorrow’s hearing the same way that he did last night, without violating the terms of the agreement with the vaccine suppliers,” he added.

The Senate is set to resume its inquiry on Friday, January 22 on the government’s nationwide immunization plan.

Lacson said he was satisfied with Galvez’s briefing but advised the official to be vigilant against any irregularity that may be taking place without his knowledge.

“We were shown the documents. And we have no doubt about Sec. Galvez’s integrity and his sincerity to accomplish his task,” he said.

“That said, we advised Sec. Galvez to mind his back, front, left and right sides. He may have the best of intentions but there may be people pushing him out front to do the talking and explaining to take advantage of his credibility while pursuing their own interests,” he added.

Lacson said that Galvez has assured senators that he will make it “very hard for those people to even have an opening for that opportunity.”

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