Lacson Panel Studies Including Abuse of Social Media, Money Transfer in Anti-Terror Act Coverage


Harsh penalties may await not just those who directly commit terrorist acts, but also those who abuse social media and money transfer services to further terrorist ends.

Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said Tuesday they are studying the inputs on the issues, which were raised at a Senate hearing on anti-terrorism legislation.

“We must be clear. The state must take immediate action in the exercise of its police powers to address the threat of terrorism,” said Lacson, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs that headed the hearing.

But he stressed they will make sure such provisions do not violate the Constitutional rights to freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

“This is in the context of the state dealing with terrorism, and as such it needs immediate action in the exercise of its police powers to abate terrorism,” Lacson said.

Related: Ping: Social Media, Online Remittance Inaaral na Isama sa Anti-Terror Law

During Tuesday’s hearing, Atty. Marwil Llasos of the Institute of International Legal Studies said social media has been used as a means of radicalization.

Anything harmful to public safety and public order can be regulated by the state, he added.

Llasos also noted law enforcement agencies like the National Bureau of Investigation can take down social media accounts for offenses such as cyber-libel.

Other countries also have the authority to shut down social media accounts deemed inimical to the national interest.

Another issue to be studied after it was brought up during the hearing involved the potential use of money transfer services to finance terrorist activities.

Meanwhile, Lacson stressed the need for a mechanism in the executive department that would keep the President updated on terrorist threats.

In the United States, he said the President receives a daily executive brief.

“There is need for a regular update to allow quick analysis, submitted on a regular basis. If not daily, at least weekly or monthly, to assist in the decision-making process,” he said.

He also said such a mechanism can avoid the problems encountered by authorities in the 2001 Dos Palmas incident where the Abu Sayyaf abducted 20 hostages at the Dos Palmas resort in Palawan.

Earlier, Lacson filed Senate Bill 1956, which enhances the Human Security Act of 2007 with provisions on foreign terrorists and additional predicate crimes.

Lacson, who headed the Philippine National Police from 1999 to 2001, lamented that while the HSA had been in effect for more than 10 years, gaps in the law prevented authorities from implementing it properly.