Lacson cites Bato’s PNP experience to justify terror bill provisions
Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson cited the experience of former Philippine National Police chief and now Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa to justify some of the most controversial provisions of the antiterrorism bill, particularly those allowing warrantless arrests and a detention period of up to 14 days without charges.
Lacson, who is also a retired PNP chief, is the main author of Senate Bill No. 1083, or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which the House of Representatives adopted without changes and approved on final reading on Wednesday.
Recently certified as urgent by President Duterte, the proposed measure would repeal Republic Act No. 9372, or the Human Security Act of 2007, which allows suspected terrorists to be detained only for three days without a warrant or formal charges.
In a radio interview on Friday, Lacson said that when Dela Rosa was still the chief of the Davao City police, his men were “forced to release [a terrorism] suspect since they knew the case will be dismissed due to insufficiency of evidence.” The police then knew that “they will be charged [with] arbitrary detention” if they would still keep the suspect in custody.
“Months later, (Dela Rosa) saw a video showing the same suspect they had released beheading [a captive],” Lacson said.
Dela Rosa also referred to this episode during an earlier Senate hearing. He said he agreed to the release of the suspected terrorist, who was arrested without a warrant, lest the Davao City police be accused of violating the three-day limit and fined P500,000 for each day of unlawful detention.
According to Lacson, law enforcement officials actually wanted the antiterror bill to allow “a 30-day warrantless detention,” but that he opposed it since he knew it would be questioned by his fellow senators and human rights groups.
Compared to other countries, he said, the Philippines actually has one of the shortest detention periods for terror suspects detained without judicial warrant.
Singapore allows indefinite jail time for a terror suspect facing investigation, Malaysia allows up to a two-year detention, while in Indonesia such a suspect can be held for 120 days, he said.
In Senate Bill No. 1083, Lacson said, he tried to find a “median” and adopted the period prescribed by the antiterrorism laws of Australia and Sri Lanka, which both allow a 14-day warrantless detention.
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