Año backs changes to Human Security Act to fight terrorism
MANILA, Philippines — Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Tuesday that he would support the proposed amendments to the Human Security Act (HSA), particularly the longer wiretapping and detention period as part of efforts to counter terrorism.
According to Año, terrorism is a coordinated crime that has mounted over time and will require intensified efforts so it can be effectively repelled by the government.
“We are facing new and old terrorism challenges. To meet this challenge, our laws must adapt as well to the changing security environment,” he said in a statement.
Año, a former chief-of-staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said experience has shown that battling terrorism is “massively different” from fighting other common crimes.
“Investigating terror groups or individuals can be tedious, hence, requires time and the proposed extension of wiretapping and detention period can definitely boost the government’s counterterrorism efforts,” he said.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana recently suggested widening the permissible wiretapping and detention period at a joint hearing of the Senate committees on national defense and security and on finance.
Under the current provisions of the HSA, the approved period for wiretapping is 30 days that can be extended or renewed by the Court of Appeals and should not exceed 30 days from the expiration of the original period.
Lorenzana is pushing to extend this period to 90 days.
He also wants to increase the detention period of suspected terrorists in custody of authorities under a warrantless arrest from the current 36 hours to up to 60 days.
According to Año, there are already safeguards in the law that address concerns that such move could be abused by law enforcers.
“The HSA is in place to ensure that no abuse will take place,” he sad. “At natitiyak ko na kung mangyayari ang pagbabago sa nasabing batas, mas paiigtingin pa ang pagsiguro na hindi ito maaabuso.”
He explained that according to Section 7 of the Human Security Act, only upon an order from the Court of Appeals can law enforcers perform wiretapping operations.
Under Section 18 of the same law, he said any police officer or law enforcer authorized in writing by the Anti-Terrorism Council and has taken custody of a suspected terrorist must bring the said person to the proper judicial authority within three days since he was apprehended.
“The current administration will not allow abuse in the HSA to happen. Sa kasalukuyang porma ng HSA, may mga safety nets na pinaiiral. With the proposed amendments, respect for human rights is ensured,” Año said.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government is part of the administration’s Security, Justice and Peace Cluster spearheading the modification of the Human Security Act.
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