THE Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, a brainchild of Sen. Panfilo Lacson, hardly a supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte, will at long last give the republic the legal weapon to decisively and quickly defeat Jose Maria Sison’s Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its private army, the New People’s Army (NPA). The CPP has mobilized all its fronts and the usual bleeding-heart, flaky-minded liberal ideologues to oppose the proposed law, with the usual tiring cliché of “it could be abused.”
C’mon, this is a nation with “human rights” and “due process” up to its ears, and we have lawyers practicing lucrative, corporate law with one hand and defending the CPP and Sison with the other. In its 51 years of existence, the communists have really proven to be incompetent militarily, but experts in the manipulation of our rule of law and democratic system.
We are the now the only country in Southeast Asia with an armed insurgency and a legislature with seven communist cadres as “representatives,” with each contributing to the growth of the other. Do you seriously believe that Red congressmen like Carlos Zarate and Ariel Casilao would have won seats if not for their communists’ mass base and fear of the NPA?
For chrissakes, let’s stop this bogeyman that a Philippine government will ever be a police state. After the massive propaganda since1986 on human rights abuses during martial law, Filipinos have been devotees of the Goddess of Human Rights and the God “Rule of Law.”
Why, our present anti-terrorism statues can’t even detain a confirmed, globally identified terrorist such as Mohammed Reza Kiram, an Islamic State (IS) jihadist who had even fought with the IS in Syria. He was arrested in Davao City in 2013, but was released after the three-day period of detention under the old Human Security Act of 2007. In June 2016, a video clip showed him among those who were beheading hostages.
Not a few of the party’s central committee members and top NPA commanders in fact had been arrested at least twice, only to be released on bail to return to the underground.
Our military and police are, in fact, so afraid of being slapped with a human rights violation case, as this would endanger their career and deprive them of retirement benefits.
One lawyer, either incompetent in law or who intentionally lied to fool people, claimed in his Facebook (FB) post that the bill allows suspected terrorists of being charged for 14 days, which “is in violation of Article VII, Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution, which prohibits the detention without formal charges for more than three days.”
His FB friends, of course, wouldn’t bother checking out that section, which involves the President’s powers to declare martial law and suspend the writ of habeas corpus. That provision prescribes that three-day period as a check on such extraordinary powers.
The Anti-Terrorism bill of course doesn’t declare martial law or suspend the writ of habeas corpus. Nothing in the Constitution prevents Congress from enacting a special law that allows government to detain suspected terrorists without a warrant for 14 days, which can be extended for another ten days. A suspect’s lawyers can even file a writ of habeas corpus.
How bad anyway is a 14-day or even 24-day detention of someone suspected of ambushing soldiers or assassinating government officials? The United Kingdom allows 28 days for such cases; Singapore, two years; Malaysia, 59 days that could be extended to two years; and Indonesia, 21 days extendable to four months.
The United States? Over 500 Muslims suspected to be linked to the 9/11 attacks had been kept at its Guantanamo detention camp for over three years and there are still 40 detainees rotting there since 2001!
That same jerk of a lawyer claim that the bill is “imprecise, vague and has an overbroad definition of ‘terrorism.’” Among the acts that defines a terrorist are those “intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to any person, or endangers a person’s life…and to cause extensive damage or destruction to a government or public facility, public place or private property in order to seriously destabilize or destroy the fundamental political, economic or social structures of the country.”
Is that imprecise and vague? Does that lawyer want terrorism to be defined so precisely as one who “fires an assault weapon in order to kill policemen and soldiers in order to advance the armed overthrow of government”?
As I see it, the bill’s provision, which has panicked the communists are its sections 10 (d) and 26.
Section 10 (d) reads: “Recruitment to and Membership in a Terrorist Organization. — Any person who shall recruit another to participate in, join, commit or support terrorism or a terrorist individual or any terrorist organization, association or group of persons proscribed under Section 26 of this Act, or designated by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) as a terrorist organization, or organized for the purpose of engaging in terrorism, shall suffer the penalty of life imprisonment without the benefit of parole.” (The legal meaning of “proscribe” is “ban under penalty of law.” — RDT).
The same section, paragraph D: “Any person who shall voluntarily and knowingly join any organization, association or group of persons knowing that such organization, association or group of persons is proscribed under Section 26 of this Act, or designated by the United Nations Security Council as a terrorist organization, or organized for the purpose of engaging in terrorism, shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of twelve (12) years.”
Whichever penalty, these sections facilitate the arrest and conviction of the CPP-NPA members, who in the party’s constitution and program, in its declarations in its newsletters, in its ambushes and assassinations, show it is engaged in terrorism, even if they term it as “revolutionary struggle” or “people’s war. ”
When it manages to proscribe the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization, government doesn’t have to prove Kumander so-and-so ambushed Army soldiers or burned a tractor whose owners refused to pay “revolutionary tax.” All it has to do is prove that he is an NPA member.
Really now, how many people and rebels-without-cause types of students would join the CPP-NPA, and its fronts if they know they risk spending their lives in prison?
Contrary to the widespread notion though, the UNSC has not yet designated the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization, only the Abu Sayyaf, the Jemaah Islamiya and the Rajah Soliman Movement, as well as 76 persons identified to be members of these groups.
The Duterte administration (under Proclamation 317 series of 2017), the US Department of State, the European Union Council have designated — “described,” not “proscribed” — the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization.
The anti-terror bill, however, provides a procedure to proscribe an organization as terrorist, other than being deemed automatically so if designated by the UNSC.
Contrary again to fake news being disseminated, it is not just the nine-man Anti-Terrorism Council or ATC (consisting of Cabinet members, including the head of the Anti-Money Laundering Council) that proscribes an organization as a terrorist one.
It is a judicial body, the “authorizing division of the Court of Appeals” upon the application by the Justice department which, however, has to clear it with the ATC upon the recommendation of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency.
I’m sure the communists’ many legal eagles, such as Sison’s Edru Olalia, the National Union of People’s Lawyers, the Public Interest Law Center and, of course, the election loser Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno, would put up a good defense to keep the party from being proscribed.
Do you think anybody would manufacture “proof” so that the court would proscribe an organization as terrorist when the bill imposes a penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment for those who do this or violate the rights of those accused of terrorism?
To be honest, I got a headache from trying to understand the anti-terror bill as all bills and laws are crafted in a different language called “legalese,” and studying the allegations against it.
But if you publicly rant against it, please read it first.