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Lacson revives bills fortifying anti-terrorism, anti-wiretapping laws

By: - Reporter / @DYGalvezINQ
/ 06:53 PM July 02, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson has refiled bills that seek to strengthen the government’s fight against terrorism and criminality.

On Tuesday, Lacson filed Senate Bill No. 21, which aims to amend Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007, “to give the government an effective legal framework that would enable it to have a criminal justice response to terrorism.”

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“This measure seeks to provide our law enforcement with enough tools to conduct investigations that would enable them to prevent terrorist attacks before they happen, or in case they are unable to do so, at least bring the perpetrators to justice,” the senator noted in his bill.

According to Lacson, while RA 9327 has been in effect for over a decade now, gaps in the law prevented authorities from implementing it properly.

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So far, he said, the only conviction for terrorism under the Human Security Act was that of Nur Sapian by the Taguig City Regional Trial Court.

The senator also pointed out that the occupation of Marawi City by Maute group in 2017 showed the loopholes in the current law that “leads to the conclusion that we still do not have an effective legal framework that can empower the government to address terrorism as a crime.”

Under the proposed measure, terrorist acts are punishable by life imprisonment without parole. Public officers found guilty of terrorist acts face perpetual disqualification from holding public office and forfeiture of their retirement benefits, it added.

But the bill makes it clear that terrorist acts shall exclude legitimate exercises of the freedom of expression and right to peaceably assemble “where a person does not have the intention to use or urge the use of force or violence or cause harm to others.”

Expanding anti-wire-tapping bill

Lacson also filed Senate Bill No. 22, which, if passed, will allow wiretapping against those involved in dangerous crimes like drugs, money-laundering, and coups.

It seeks to amend and update the 54-year-old Republic Act 4200 that prohibits and penalizes wiretapping and other related violations of the privacy of communication.

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For Lacson, a former chief of the Philippine National Police, wiretapping has been an “effective tool” against criminal elements.

However, he said, there are still certain crimes that are not covered, putting people’s lives and property in danger and posing a grave threat to the country’s security.

“The peace-and-order situation in the country gives testament to this fact and thus, it is imperative for us to revisit RA 4200 in order to further enhance its effectiveness,” Lacson said in a statement.

Senate Bill No. 22 seeks to allow law enforcement or military officers authorized by the court to conduct wiretapping against persons involved in coup d’état, conspiracy, and proposal to commit coup d’état, robbery in band, brigandage or highway robbery, illegal drugs, and money laundering.

According to Lacson, the current law only allows wiretapping against persons involved in treason, espionage, provoking war and disloyalty in case of war, piracy, mutiny in the high seas, rebellion, conspiracy and proposal to commit rebellion, inciting to rebellion, sedition, conspiracy to commit sedition, inciting to sedition, kidnapping, and espionage and other offenses against national security.

The Human Security Act of 2007 also included terrorism and conspiracy to commit terrorism to the list, provided it is with a written order from the Court of Appeals, he added.

Based on Lacson’s proposal, violators of an expanded wire-tapping law shall face six to 12 years of imprisonment and a fine of P1 to P5 million.

Meanwhile, those who manufacture, assemble, sell, import or distribute wiretapping equipment without securing the needed permit may face three to six years in jail and a fine of P500,000 to P2 million. Their equipment will also be automatically forfeited in favor of the government.

As for those who conceal, destroy or reveal the contents of wiretapped materials without written authorization from the court may be imprisoned for six to 12 years and may be fined from P1 to P5 million. (Editor: Katherine G. Adraneda)

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