Nothing in anti-terrorism bill adds any new power to military, AFP says

Robie de Guzman   •   June 4, 2020   •   552

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.

The Senate passed its version of the bill on third and final reading in February.

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.

Bayan Muna lawmaker condemns ‘desecration’ of daughter’s remains

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Eufemia Campos Cullamat condemned what she called a “desecration” of her daughter’s remains by the military.

Cullamat’s 20-year-old daughter, Jevilyn Cullamat was killed in an encounter between the military and the New People’s Army (NPA) in Surigao del Sur.

The lawmaker reiterated that she respects her daughter’s decision to join the NPA but slammed the military for taking a photo of Jevilyn’s remains along with other paraphernalia recovered by soldiers.

“Mariin kong kinokondena ang ginawang pambabastos at pambababoy sa labi ng aking anak. Hindi siya bagay, hindi siya isang tropeo na ipaparada para lamang sa propaganda ng militar (I strongly condemn the desecration and disrespect toward my daughter’s remains. She is not an object or a trophy that will be paraded for military propaganda),” she said in a statement.

Kilusang Mayo Uno also condemned the “desecration of the dead” and has appealed to the media to stop posting the images.

“We appeal to the media to refrain from posting pictures of what is clearly the military’s desecration of the dead,” their statement reads.

Meanwhile, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NPA-ELCAC) has sent its condolences to Cullamat’s family.

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also called on the other members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and NPA to surrender to the government.

“The death of 22 year-old armed rebel Jevilyn Cullamat during an encounter between the New People’s Army (NPA) and government forces is a grim reminder of the effects of the fruitless armed coflict perpetrated by these communist terrorist groups,” he said.

“We call on our representatives in the Makabayan Bloc and all those who condone the atrocities committed by the NPA to denounce the divisive ideology that destroys lives and property,” he added. AAC

AFP, PNP: Tiamzons’ conviction a victory for Reds’ victims

Robie de Guzman   •   November 27, 2020

Wilma and Benito Tiamzon

MANILA, Philippines – Military and police officials on Friday lauded the conviction of Benito and Wilma Tiamzon on charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention, calling it a victory for the victims of the communist group.

In a statement, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson, Major General Edgard Arevalo said the court’s decision is “a victory for the many victims of atrocities of the NPA particularly orders to conduct murder, arson, extortion, ambushes, bombing and the like that they orchestrated.”

“They were convicted ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ by the Regional Trial Court 216 of Quezon City for the crime of kidnapping and serious illegal detention,” he said.

The Tiamzon couple is believed to be ranking officials of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

The Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 216 found the couple guilty of kidnapping and serious illegal detention. They were sentenced to reclusion perpetua or up to 40 years of imprisonment.

The Tiamzons were also ordered to pay damages and civil indemnity to the complainant amounting to P225,000.

“The AFP will continue to hunt them down after they have violated the provisions of their temporary liberty by virtue of their being nominated as consultants in the peace negotiations with the government. They refused to submit themselves to the government after the peace negotiations did not prosper,” Arevalo said.

He also vowed that the AFP would continue to strengthen its resolve to bring other criminals to justice in honor of the victims of the violence perpetrated by the CPP-NPA.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) called the conviction of Tiamzon couple a triumph of justice.

“It is also another success story on the efficiency of our prosecutors of our investigators who secured the validity of evidence presented during trial. Of course, it is also a manifestation of the sins committed by the communist terrorists against our people,” PNP spokesperson Brigadier General Ilbrandi Usana said in a statement.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año also lauded the conviction of the Tiamzons, recalling the efforts to track down and arrest the couple when he was just a military captain.

“I’m very happy malaki kasi yung hirap ko diyan sa paghuli niyan I was the chief of ISAFP (Intelligence Service of the AFP) when they was arrested in March 2014. I just cannot recall the exact date March 20 or 21, I spent half of my career looking for this couple started I was Captain,” he said.

The couple was arrested in 2014 in Cebu City after many years of hiding. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

AFP sends medical teams to Davao City to boost efforts vs COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   November 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has deployed a medical contingent to Davao City to augment efforts against the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and to increase the health system capability of the city.

The AFP Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) on Wednesday confirmed the arrival in the city of  the medical teams which are composed of doctors, nurses and corpsmen from the military Health Service Command.

LtGen. Jose Faustino Jr., commander of AFP EastMinCom, said they will provide billeting, security, and service support for the contingent during their deployment as Davao City is under the command’s area of responsibility.

The AFP sent medical teams after Davao City was classified as “restricted local government unit” due to the surge of COVID-19 cases in the area.

Faustino said the same medical contingent responded to Cebu when it recorded high number of coronavirus infections sometime in June to August.

“Together with the personnel from the AFP General Headquarters, Eastmincom marches forward in helping the government address the Covid-19 pandemic. We continue to provide troops in the frontlines with an unwavering passion to make sure that our forces are visible in every aspect of the health response,” he said.

Aside from providing medical support, AFP personnel will also assist in manning checkpoints, quarantine facilities and provide transportation facilities.

“Since day one, our troops have been manning the quarantine checkpoints, providing transportation services, and assisting quarantine facilities and will continue to do so to see to it that our medical frontliners are not alone in this battle,” Faustino said.

Faustino also said that the AFP has prepared standby teams to be deployed to other areas with high COVID-19 caseloads. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

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