Trillanes proposes ’doable policies’ instead of Anti-Terror Bill
MANILA, Philippines — Former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV proposed on Monday several “doable policies” that the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte can implement instead of signing into law the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
According to Trillanes, intelligence funds for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) can be increased.
“All effective counterterrorism programs are contingent on effective and timely intel operations. Even if you have the strictest law on anti-terrorism, if you don’t know who and where they are, how could you possibly arrest them?” Trillanes said.
“Right now, the bulk of the intel funds of government are allocated to the Office of the President, which has no intel operating units directly under it,” he added.
Further, Trillanes said that sharing of intel with other allies such as the United States, the European Union, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), among others, can likewise be beneficial.
“Our allies have extensive capabilities to track down foreign terrorists on their databases and we can benefit greatly from them for our own counterterrorism efforts,” Trillanes said.
Trillanes also proposed the implementation of the National ID system which, he said, would be an “effective tool” to deter local terrorism and also help solve crimes.
“It has been passed into law in 2018, but Duterte refuses to implement it. (Probably out of fear that his thousands of ghost employees in Davao City government would be discovered),” Trillanes said.
The government can also implement stricter border controls in airports and seaports, adding that the recent “pastillas” corruption scheme at the Bureau of Immigration (BI) showed that “criminals and terrorists can smoothly go through immigration checks by just paying BI officials.”
“Again, even if you have the strictest law against terrorism, it won’t matter if the law enforcers themselves are corrupt,” Trillanes said.
Bring back VFA
Trillanes also said that the government can bring back the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and “fully implement” the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States.
“The past several years, the AFP has benefitted greatly from the ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) operations of the US armed forces,” Trillanes said.
“This led to the containment of the Abu Sayyaf and Maute groups before Duterte came into power. Unfortunately, Duterte sat on the EDCA implementation and eventually abrogated the VFA,” he added.
The former senator likewise noted that the Mamasapano incident in 2015 is “not a terrorist act per se” but rather an “unfortunate conventional encounter of the PNP-SAF (Philippine National Police-Special Action Force) with some rogue MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) forces.”
To recall, Duterte gave the United States government 30 days to rectify the visa cancellation of his political ally, Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, or he would discontinue the two-decade-old military accord.
The Philippines then officially pulled out of the VFA in February.
In June, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. announced the suspension of the revocation of the VFA for six months from June 1 and will be “extendible by the Philippines for another six months.”
“As we can see, these are very doable policies that the administration can immediately implement to address the threat of terrorism without passing into law the highly contentious and definitely unconstitutional Terror bill,” Trillanes said.
“But then again, we all know that this bill was less about running after real terrorists than silencing legitimate political dissent,” he added.
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