Longer warrantless detention among features of Lacson anti-terror bill
MANILA, Philippines — The country’s main law against terrorism remained toothless, according to Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday, Oct. 2.
In a speech sponsoring Senate Bill No. 1083, or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2019, which Lacson authored, the former police chief said while other countries “have made headway in amending or passing new anti-terrorism laws” the Philippines was still languishing in the Human Security Act of 2007.
Under the current law, Lacson said there are only four instances when terror suspects could be prosecuted—actual crime being committed, conspiracy, serving as an accomplice and serving as an accessory to terror acts.
But it also listed 20 instances when law enforcers face penalties for erroneous arrests or detentions. One of these is a P500,000 per day penalty for erroneous detention of terror suspects.
“Only in the Philippines – as the expression goes – where the anti-terror law has literally more provisions restricting our law enforcers than bringing terrorists to justice,” Lacson said in his sponsorship speech.
“Our country needs an anti-terror law that would provide a strong legal backbone to support our criminal justice response to terrorism, enable our law enforcers the much-needed tools to protect our people from the threat of terrorism, and at the same time, safeguard the rights of those accused of the crime,” he added.
Among the amendments that Lacson wanted to introduce through his bill is clearer definition of terrorism according to regional and international norms.
Lacson’s bill would also remove the “restrictive and absurd” fine of P500,000 per day for erring law enforcers.
The bill would allow terror suspects to be surveilled for 60 days, extendable by another 30 days.
It also sought to lengthen the period of detention of suspects from three to 14 days without a case filed or a warrant obtained for arrest. Lacson said it’s still “within the moderate” bracket.
The bill would also penalize law enforcers with jail terms of 10 to 12 years for violating suspects’ rights.
“I have said it then and I will say it again: A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction,” said Lacson in his speech.
“In either case, he is justly accountable,” he said./TSB
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