Senate OKs proposed new anti-terror bill on second reading

Robie de Guzman   •   February 20, 2020   •   1359

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.

Lacson, Sotto test negative for illegal drugs

Maris Federez   •   November 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential aspirant Senator Panfilo Lacson and running mate Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday (November 22) underwent voluntary drug testing at the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) office in Diliman, Quezon City, and tested negative for drug use, a statement from the Partido Reporma said.

Earlier in the day, Sotto said: “Magkaalaman na kung sino matatapang”.

The Lacson-Sotto tandem said their move was to show that they are drug-free and fit to run in the 2022 national and local elections.

Sotto earlier said that ordinary drug tests only determine “shabu” or  “marijuana” use.

However, the PDEA test that they took, he said, is a ‘’multi-drug one-step immunometric assay for the detection of drugs of abuse in urine.’’

In the statement, Lacson said he and Sotto took a multi-drug screening procedure, which is capable of detecting all types of illegal substances in a human body. They both tested negative for illegal drugs.

The tandem went through all the protocols from the signing up of forms to the submission of their urine samples where an attending physician monitored them closely to ensure the authenticity of the tests.

Last Friday, Lacson suggested Friday conducting a random drug test to candidates following President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement on an unnamed presidential candidate who was into cocaine.

“I have never been addicted to drugs all my life, so I have no problem with that. In fact, we should all undergo random testing to make it more credible,” he said.

Meanwhile, in an ambush interview in General Santos City, Senator Christopher ‘Bong’ Go who is also running for president, reiterated that, although it is not mandatory, he is willing to undergo drug testing any time of the day.

“Ako naman po willing magpa-drug test anytime of the day. Anytime po kung kakailanganin,” Go said.

“Though hindi mandatory, pero just to prove lang po sa Pilipino kung sino yung fit na mamuno sa ating bansa ay willing po akong magpa-drug test, any time of the day po,” he added. —/mbmf

Lacson, Sotto officially launch tandem for presidential, VP posts

Maris Federez   •   September 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III, on Wednesday, officially launched their tandem on their bid for the presidential and vice-presidential posts in the 2022 National Elections.

The pre-taped campaign launch was attended by few family members, friends, former co-workers, and supporters who were tested for the coronavirus before the event. Other supporters joined the tandem via teleconference and taped testimonies.

Sotto took the stage first to signify his intention to be the country’s second in command.

“Ang inyo pong lingkod ay naririto para harapin ang hamon sa tamang panahon na maging kandidato ninyo sa pagka-pangalawang pangulo ng Republika ng Pilipinas,” Sotto said.

After raising national issues, such as poor economy, rising COVID-19 cases, corruption, and poverty, Sotto said the Filipinos have had enough.

“Tama na! Kailangan na nating tumugon! Kailangan na nating umaksyon! Kailangan na natin magsanib pwersa upang mapigilan at maitama ang mali. Ito na ang simula,” he said.

In his own speech, Lacson mentioned how President Rodrigo Duterte admitted in his final State of the Nation Address “that he was wrong to think that leading the country is simple and easy as leading Davao City.”

“Walang debate sa katotohanan. Hindi natin dapat payagan ang maling akala para sa kinabukasan ng ating bansa,” Lacson said.

Lacson stressed that the challenges that await the next administration are no joking matter and that they should be addressed with honest, dedicated, and competent public service.

“Mayroon kaming sapat na kakayahan, katapatan, at katapangan upang pamunuan ang ating bansa at upang muling bumangon sa ating pagkakalugmok,” he said.

Lacson and Sotto said they are gunning for “leadership by example.”

“Hindi sa salita kundi sa gawa. No leader can succeed if he cannot practice what he preaches,” Lacson said.

Lacson said they are in the process of crafting their platform of government that they want to present to the people.

“As we speak, we are in the process of drawing up a roadmap or a master plan that will serve as our platform of government that we intend to present to our people. After all, sa takdang panahon, kayo ang magdedesisyon kung karapat-dapat ba kaming pagkatiwalaan na mamuno sa ating bayan,” he said. —/mbmf

Lacson claps back at Duterte’s statement that Senate inquiries are all in vain

Maris Federez   •   August 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson has belied the statement of President Rodrigo Duterte that inquiries conducted by the Senate never ended up going anywhere.

Lacson said the general public has been enjoying a significant number of laws that the Senate has enacted based on the inquiries and investigations conducted by the upper chamber of Congress.

The Senator, in a seeming swipe at the President, told the chief executive to review the separation of powers in government.

“Magbasa rin muna siya tungkol sa doktrina ng Separation of Powers at Checks and Balances ng Ehekutibo, Kongreso at Hudikatura bago niya kami pakialaman sa Senado,” Lacson said.

The President, Lacson said, should instead focus his attention on the performance of the Cabinet, not just in addressing the pandemic but also in other aspects of governance.

“Sa halip, asikasuhin niya ang mga kakulangan ng sangay ng gobyerno na kanyang pinamumunuan na hitik sa incompetence at corruption, hindi lang sa pagtugon sa pandemya kundi sa maraming aspeto ng governance,” he said.

Lacson also expressed his disappointment that the President has been the one defending his officials who are the subject of their investigation, instead of being the one to charge these officials for their inaction or poor performance.

“Kaya hindi nakakasuhan ang ilang matataas na opisyal na naging subject ng pag-iimbestiga namin ay dahil ipinagtatanggol niya sa halip na makasuhan,” he said.

“Hindi trabaho ng Senado ang magsampa ng demanda. Trabaho ng Executive Branch iyon. Judiciary naman ang magpapakulong. Mahirap bang i-memorize yan?” Lacson added. —/mbmf

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