Cayetano to activists: Don’t hide terrorists within your ranks
MANILA, Philippines — While Speaker Alan Cayetano agrees that “activism is not terrorism,” he reminds activists not to let terrorists “hide within their ranks.”
“Terrorism is not activism so in the same way that we should not persecute or go after the activists in the guise that they are terrorists, kayong mga aktibista, do not allow the terrorists to hide within your ranks,” he said during his sine die adjournment speech on Friday.
Cayetano cited the case of Marawi City where he said most citizens are law-abiding and were fighting against “traditional and historic injustices” against Muslim Filipinos.
However, when terrorists “inserted” themselves in the community, residents of the city were swept in a five-month siege back in 2017.
The House leader defended the approval of the Anti-Terrorism bill despite the ongoing public health crisis in the country brought about by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
The House was able to pass on third and final reading the measure that will amend the Human Security Act of 2007. However, it failed to approve the Bayanihan 2 bill before it adjourned sine die. The bill would have provided various forms of relief during the coronavirus pandemic.
Critics have raised several concerns against the bill, warning that its approval may trample certain human rights.
A United Nations (UN) rights official has said that the new legislation, which allows the detention of suspects for up to 24 days without the issuance of warrants and relaxes human rights safeguards, is “very worrying.”
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman on Friday earlier urged Cayetano not to sign the enrolled copy of the bill so it would give the House leadership time to consult with lawmakers to address serious concerns on the constitutionality of the proposed measure and “its chilling threat to legitimate dissent and other fundamental freedoms.”
The proposed measure penalizes 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.
Any person who shall threaten to commit terrorism and those who will propose any terroristic acts or incite others to commit terrorism will suffer the penalty of 12 years imprisonment.
Any person who shall voluntarily and knowingly join any organization, association, or group of persons knowing that such is a terrorist organization, will also be imprisoned for 12 years. The same penalty shall be imposed on any person found liable as an accessory in the commission of terrorism.
Meanwhile, those who will be proven guilty of engaging in a conspiracy to commit terrorism shall be penalized by life imprisonment without the benefit of parole.
The lower chamber adopted the Senate version of the bill, Senate Bill No. 1083, which allows Congress to skip the bicameral conference committee, and transmit the enrolled bill straight to the Malacañang for the President’s signature.
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