Nothing in anti-terrorism bill adds any new power to military, AFP says
Robie de Guzman • June 4, 2020 • 459
MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday welcomed the Congress’ move to immediately pass the controversial anti-terrorism bill amid growing opposition from various rights groups.
In a statement, AFP spokesperson Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo said the military is aware of the issues being raised on the proposed measure but based on reports, there is nothing in the bill that adds “any new power” to the military.
“…From what has been reported to me so far is that nothing in the Enrolled Bill to be sent to the President for his consideration adds any new power to the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” he said.
He also said that various issues on the proposal were “all considered in the thorough and deliberate discussions in Congress.”
“We reserve further comment until the proposed legislation is signed into law by the President and the IRRs (implementing rules and regulations) are out so we can study the law and the how’s of its implementation,” Arevalo added.
The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the anti-terrorism bill on second reading with 173 affirmative votes, 31 negative and 29 abstentions.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier certified the bill as urgent, saying 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 anti-terrorism bill seeks to amend and improve the provisions of the Human Security Act of 2007.
Under the measure, 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.
The Department of National Defense has assured the public that activists and critics of the government will not be considered as terrorists following concerns that the measure will be used to target those who are expressing anti-government sentiments.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government also said that the bill is not anti-human rights as it, in fact, seeks to protect the rights of innocent people from terrorists.
“The Anti-Terrorism Bill aims to eradicate terrorism from our country. The people have nothing to fear from this bill; it is only the terrorists and their supporters who should fear it,” DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said, adding that this measure is a timely upgrade in the government’s arsenal against all forms of terrorism plaguing the Philippines for so many years.
MANILA, Philippines – Five suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) were killed and two soldiers were injured in an encounter between the government troops and the terrorist group in Zamboanga Sibugay on Wednesday (September 9).
Lieutenant Colonel Don Templonuevo, commander of the 44th Infantry Batallion said the clash happened during a joint military and police pursuit operations in Barangay Pres. Roxas, RT Lim in Zamboanga Sibugay around 2 a.m.
Templonuevo said the encounter was the result of their pursuit operations against armed elements of Abral Abdusalam and Sahibad group led by Furuji Indama, an ASG leader based in Basilan.
The clash follows an earlier gun battle between the military and the local terrorist group in Barangay La Paz, Alicia in Zamboanga Sibugay on Sept. 6, he added.
The military said government troops were also able to recover four high-powered firearms after the 30-minute clash against the 10 Abu Sayyaf Group member.
Pursuit operation against the ASG is still on-going.
Brig. Gen. Leonel Nicolas, Commander, 102nd Infantry Brigade, said the group was supposedly planning to conduct kidnapping activities in the region based on information they received from a reliable source.
“The unit would also like to thank the locals who tipped-off the authorities of the presence of these terrorist groups which resulted to the timely response of our troops,” Nicolas said.
Meanwhile, the two wounded soldiers, whose identities are yet to be disclosed, were airlifted to Camp Navarro General Hospital, Zamboanga City for proper medical attention.
Both soldiers are now in stable condition, the military reported.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is eyeing to monitor social media, evacuation centers, schools, and orphanages to help prevent terrorists to recruit the youth and train them as suicide bombers.
In an interview on ‘Get it Straight with Daniel Razon’, AFP Spokesperson MGen. Edgard Arevalo said there is a risk that the youth would be easier to be persuaded by the radicalized ideas of terrorist groups.
“Nakikipagtulungan tayo sa mga local government officials upang ito ay maagapan natin na hindi makapasok na maaring mag-recruit at lumason sa kanilang isipan (We are coordinating with local government officials to prevent terrorists from recruiting and poisoning the youth’s minds),” he said.
The AFP also advised parents to also monitor their children and be aware of their activities.
Meanwhile, Arevalo expressed his gratitude to several LGUs in Sulu that declared the Abu Sayyaf Group as persona non grata.
From 1991 to June 2020, around 100 suicide bombing incidents were recorded in Sulu. AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)
MANILA, Philippines – Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Lieutenant General Gilbert Gapay on Wednesday clarified that the military has no intention of imposing “prior restraint” on freedom of expression when he proposed the regulation of social media under the controversial Anti-Terrorism Law.
Gapay made the clarification during the deliberation of the Commission on Appointments on his nomination to a rank of a general.
He said his proposal is not tantamount to curtailing the people’s freedom of expression as he stressed that the goal is to regulate social media platforms and service providers and not its users.
Gapay said that based on intelligence reports and their experience, terrorist groups often use the social media and the internet to recruit new members and solicit money and support from their sympathizers and other sources to fund their criminal acts.
“These terror cells are operating particularly in the dark web in the internet. And these are the things that we really want to regulate and address because they really communicate with each other through the internet,” he said.
“That is why in close coordination with social media platforms, perhaps we could come up with mechanisms on how to address these acts enumerated in the 2020 Anti-Terror Law,” he added.
Gapay earlier said he wants to include a provision that will regulate the usage of social media in the implementing rules and regulations of the controversial measure. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)
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