Should preparations for terroristic acts be punished? Justice cites case of ‘Captain Ri’
MANILA, Philippines — A certain “Captain Ri” figured in the fourth part of the oral arguments on the petitions against the Anti-Terrorism Act, which took place at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, to illustrate the issue of whether preparatory acts to commit terrorism should be punished or not.
Aside from Section 4 of the law that defines terrorism, petitioners are also challenging Section 5 (Threat to commit terrorism), Section 6 (Planning, training, preparing and facilitating the commission of terrorism), Section 9 (inciting to commit terrorism, and Section 10 (recruitment to and membership in a terrorist organization, Section 11 (foreign terrorist), Section 12 (providing material support to terrorists).
Associate Justice Rodil Zalameda said including in the law “inchoate crimes” — or actions taken towards committing a terroristic act — is in compliance with the requirements of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1337 and other UN Security Resolutions “for prevention and deterrence.”
“We are parties in the United Nations, and under Article 48 of the UN Charter. The action required to carry out decisions of the Security Council for the maintenance of international and security shall and should be taken by members,” Zalameda said.
But Jose Anselmo Cadiz, a former president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, maintained that there would have to be an overt act before a person could be arrested or prosecuted.
Zalameda asked Cadiz: “We have to wait for some overt acts before we arrest a person who is committing terrorism, conspiring to commit, proposing to commit, inciting to commit terrorism? We have to wait?”
For Associate Justice Mario Lopez, Congress should be given the discretion in coming up with laws that address actions that could develop into terrorism.
Lopez compared terrorism to treason, saying: “At the nip of the bud, we should quell before it happens. Therefore, even a mere tendency, a mere imminence of such crime, the legislature can already stop, or otherwise we might be left behind.”
To illustrate, Associate Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier mentioned Captain Ri — not the North Korean TV drama character who captured Yoon Se-ri’s heart, but a member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“I will tell you a story about Captain Ri,” Lazaro-Javier said.
“Yes. I know him, your honor,” John Molo, a Constitutional Law professor at the University of the Philippines, said.
“Really?” Lazaro-Javier said.
According to the magistrate, Captain Ri is a member of the AFP assigned in Metro Manila. He received an anonymous call informing him that, in an hour, five identified hospitals for children, would be blown up by two bombs planted in each of them.
An IT genius residing on Raven Street at the Blue Valley Executive Village in Cainta would detonate the bombs all at the same time with just a press of a button.
“What do you think Captain Ri should do after receiving the information from the anonymous caller,” Javier asked.
“He should exhaust what is available under the ATA to stop the terrorist act from happening,” Mola said.
Lazaro-Javier stressed the need to make a quick decision, adding that, if she were Captain Ri she would immediately summon her people to evacuate all the children and everyone else in the hospitals.
“At the same time, I will summon bomb experts to defuse the bombs right off. I will also dispatch my people to secure all the houses situated on Raven Street, restrain them and confiscate their cell phones and other gadgets. Then I will apply for a detention authority since I cannot yet determine who among these people is the IT genius assigned to detonate the bombs. I will need time to investigate,” she said.
She said she could not take the risk of releasing anyone of those detained until there was enough information to identify the IT genius and his or her co-conspirators. She added that there would also be a need to identify the anonymous caller to give him or her a reward.
“Do you think my actions are correct?” she asked.
“They are more than correct,” Molo said.
“So in closing, professor, allow me to say this: Unlike the fictional character of Captain Ri, you and the rest of the team are true-to-life patriots.”
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