Dela Rosa regrets freeing foreign terror suspect due to anti-terror law
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa recalled making a foreign terrorist suspect sing the Philippine national anthem, then freed him, but the suspect later ended cutting off peoples’ heads.
And he blamed it to the existing Human Security Act, which allows the detention of terror suspects only up to 36 hours or three days.
Dela Rosa, a former police chief, narrated his own experiences during Tuesday’s hearing on the bills, seeking to amend the law.
During the hearing at the Senate, the neophyte senator manifested his support on the proposal to extend the period of detention of terror suspects from the current three days to up to 30 days.
“When I was the city director of Davao city, may na-neutralized kaming suicide bomber. One of his visitors sa kanyang hotel room was a foreigner-looking, parang Middle Eastern. Paglabas sa room sinabihan ako ng military intelligence (officer); ‘Sir hulihin natin ito dahil foreign intelligence ito,’” Dela Rosa said.
He said they detained the suspect while looking for evidence against him. They even brought the suspect to the Bureau of Immigration to determine his nationality.
“Sabi ko, foreigner ka ba? Sabi nya: ‘Filipino ako, andito meron akong passport, kumpleto. Sabi ko, kantahin mo ‘yung ‘Bayang Magiliw’ kung Filipino ka, so kumanta siya sir hanggang matapos niya yung ‘Lupang Hinirang,’” the senator said.
But because of the three-day detention period provided for under the law, Dela Rosa said they had to release the suspect.
A year after, however, he was shown a video of the suspect cutting of people’s heads in Syria.
He recalled being told: “Kung hindi mo ito ni-release, hindi sana ito makapag pugot ng ulo ng mga Westerners dun sa Syria..”
“So sabi ko, sana ma-revisit itong reglamatory period, lalong-lalo na for terrorist offenses,” Dela Rosa said.
“Kung binigyan kami dun ng kahit one week lang sir, I’m sure we can come up with solid evidence against him pero wala, 36 hours lang. After 36 hours, release ko, otherwise liable kami for arbitrary detention.”
“Sayang; we could have saved more lives kung itong batas na ito naayos natin noon,” he added.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, who was presiding over the hearing, said Dela Rosa’s experience could help enhance the existing law. /je
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