#PINGterviews: Anti-Terror Bill Gets Tough vs Terrorists, Tougher vs Abusive Implementation

In interviews on ANC and CNN Philippines, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:
* the Anti-Terrorism Bill
* reported ‘Ghost’ Facebook accounts



Tough Measure, Tougher Safeguards:

“Maybe it’s not perfect pero lahat na safeguards naroon na. The bill may appear tough but its safeguards are even tougher.”

“For example, not informing the nearest judge, 10 years imprisonment and perpetual absolute disqualification. Di pwede magtrabaho sa gobyerno, tanggal benefits and pension, discharged siya at hindi pwede bumalik sa gobyerno.”

We are guided by the Bill of Rights, Art III Sec 4 of the Constitution. Maliwanag doon. No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, to peaceably assemble and express grievances vs govt. Hindi tayo pwede lumabas sa enumerated sections ng Art III Bill of Rights kasi masasayang ang pagod sa amin nag-aral kami nagdebate kami tapos made-declare lang na unconstitutional ng SC? That’s why I was always mindful of the Bill of Rights when I was defending this on the floor. And also my colleagues, particularly the lawyers who interpellated.”

Can the Bill or HOR ‘Yes’ Votes Still be Recalled?

I don’t think so because they have voted on it. It was passed on third and final reading, and I believe today it’s going to be an enrolled bill, to be transmitted to Malacanang for the President to either veto or approve, or just make it lapse into law after 30 days.”

They can sa media. Pero sa Congress they cannot. They already passed the measure on third and final reading. Today I believe the Senate and HOR will transmit the measure as an enrolled bill. It’s up to the President to either veto or approve the measure, not act on it and make it just lapse into law after 30 days. So wala nang magagawa kundi magpa-media na lang na withdraw nila signatures nila.”

Roles of PRRD, Supreme Court, DOJ?

“Yes and the SC, because they are the final interpreter. Remember the leftist groups Senate, HOR, you, everybody for that matter, hanggang opinion and argument lang tayo. But in the final analysis, ang SC magsasabi, there are unconstitutional provisions and therefore this law is unconstitutional.”

“I am confident and I am hopeful for the sake of our country because the primary aim of this measure is to secure the state and protect our people. For the sake of country and people, I just hope the SC will see wisdom in not declaring this bill unconstitutional. After all, the SC is also an establishment of the state. Pag sila nabomba problema rin yan.”

The DOJ can still interfere by advising the President to veto the bill altogether. Remember, this is not a revenue measure nor is it a budget measure, there’s no line item veto here. It’s either the President vetoes the bill in whole, not in part, or he approves it.”

Surprised with Opposition to Anti-Terror Bill?

I’m not surprised at all. We went through the same ordeal when I was sponsoring the National ID system or PhilSys. There were so many arguments against the passage of the bill, but as time passed by we realized without a national ID system we’ll do more disservice than service to our country and people.”

Claims of Vagueness in the Bill on the Definition of Terrorism:

First, there’s no vagueness in the crafting of the bill or in the definition of terrorism itself. It is clearly defined, there are delimitations. We have included 5 acts that would constitute acts of terrorism, we made it very clear the purpose of such acts by nature and context, it should be taken into consideration. At the latter part, we added a proviso that emphasizes the observance or adherence to the Bill of Rights… That’s very clear.”

People tend to just read the proposed measure not in its totality but piecemeal. Meaning, they stop reading at a certain portion. But if they read the total provisions in the definition of terrorism, they will not arrive at the conclusion that what they are doing now.”

That is as clear as it is written. But what critics fail to include are the other portions of that particular section, such that meron diyang caveat, when the purpose of such act, any one of the enumerated 5 definitions ng terrorism, when the purpose of such act by its nature or context is to intimidate the general public or a segment thereof, create an atmosphere or spread a message of fear, to provoke or influence by intimidation the government or any international organization, or seriously destabilize or destroy the fundamental economic, political or social structures of the country, or create a public emergency, or seriously undermine public safety. Down below, there’s another provision, provided that terrorism as defined in this section shall not include advocacy, protest, dissent. This is so provided in the Bill of Rights in the 1987 Constitution particularly Sec 4.”

If Dissent Unintentionally causes Risk to Public Safety, Can One be Designated a Terrorist?

No. We’ll go back to the phrase, intent and purpose. By its nature and context ano ba ang purpose at intent ng nagpasabog? If it’s clearly established the intent and purpose is to sow fear and intimidation that would affect the general public or a segment thereof, or destroys critical infrastructure. For example ABS-CBN, there’s a rally in support of it and there’s these infiltrators, a group of terrorists, just to sow fear and intimidation, will infiltrate and cause serious damage to the facilities of ABS-CBN, it will be bound by the definition and we should determine the intent and purpose by its nature and content. There’s no vagueness.”

We’ll go back to the provision qualifying such acts by its nature and context. We’ll go back to the intent and purpose of the act of terrorism. A simple protest action or speaking against the duly constituted authority or government will not constitute. But we are trying to avoid a situation where a peaceful rally is infiltrated by terrorists and it will cause harm or death not only to the institution or the critical infrastructure we mentioned here, but to the same peaceful rallyists. If it is established the intent and purpose by its nature and context ay talagang terrorist act ang gagawin, it could fall under this provision.”

We are guided by the Bill of Rights. No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech and expression, peaceably assemble, to air their grievances vs govt. Papasok yan doon. But kung intent and purpose iba na kasi in-infiltrate para magpasabog o maghasik ng dangerous substance, ibang usapan yan. That has to be established.”

“If the rally is held peacefully, tapos legitimate or peaceful ang assembly, maski may masaktan o ma-vandalize o masira na infrastructure, kung ang intent and purpose is incidental ang pagkasira sa ang purpose ay mag-air ng grievances, it will not fall under this proposed measure.”

Fears the Anti-Terror Bill may be Used vs Those Charged with ‘Inciting to Sedition’:

If you are referring to the students arrested in UP Cebu, they were not charged with inciting to sedition. They were charged with another law, ito ang health-related statute, na pwedeng magkalat ng infectious diseases. Ibang batas yan. I don’t think they were charged with inciting to sedition. Ang inciting to sedition is another crime. Walang relation sa anti-terrorism.”

“In the first place it’s not yet a law, it’s just a proposed measure. What’s existing is HSA and I don’t think it is also included under the present law. Kasi iba ang inciting to sedition. Pag hinalo-halo mo mako-confuse ang mga tao.”

There’s no connection (between the public school teacher arrested for tweeting a reward for killing the President). That’s another alleged crime allegedly committed by the public school teacher. Now there’s due process. It’s up to his lawyer/s to put up a defense he did not commit an act of inciting to sedition. That’s how democracy works, that’s how our judicial system works.”

When Can Anti-Terrorism Council Designate Someone a Terrorist?

When the UN says so. The UN has already designated terrorist organizations and so are the members of those terrorist organizations. If these foreign terrorists come to our shores, the ATC has that authority to comply with the designation issued by the UN and inform the authorities that such person has come to the PH and who is a member of the designated terrorist organization. But the authority of the ATC is limited to administrative. Meaning, they can coordinate with the AMLC for the freezing of the assets of such terrorist organizations or persons who is a member of a terrorist organization designated by UN or another jurisdiction. But it’s limited to that. The ATC cannot exercise judicial or quasi-judicial powers. Maliwanag yan.”

“(In the case of the) CPP NPA, (it) is undergoing trial based on a petition filed by the DOJ to be a proscribed terrorist organization. We elevated the level of the judicial trial here from RTC to CA. The only role of the ATC is to assist DOJ in the filing of that petition. And hindi yan automatic. The DOJ will have to conduct its own PI if such recommendation or petition merits the filing of that petition before the CA.”

Walang judicial or quasi-judicial powers ang ATC under the proposed measure. Ang nagde-determine noon ang sa frontline, ang police officer. If he wrongfully arrests a person on the basis of personal knowledge or opinion na violation ng ATA ang kanyang ginawa, ang ATC will still determine kung tama ang pagkaaresto.”

Let’s put it this way. This is purely administrative. Suppose a police officer in a precinct arrests a suspected terrorist, the CPNP or RD can override him and tell him you are not supposed to arrest that person because di yan papasok sa violation ng ATA. So you might as well release him. We are not giving full discretion to the police officer who conducted the arrest. May layers yan na pwede siya override but these are administrative acts, not judicial or quasi-judicial.”

Ang ATC walang judicial o quasi-judicial powers. Ang sinasabi nila, yan ang designated persons na designated ng UN or other jurisdictions na terrorist organization or member ng terrorist organization. Pagdating dito, ang administrative lang yan dahil ATC will have to coordinate with the AMLC para i-freeze ang assets. Di sila magfe-freeze o magpapakulong, kundi ifi-freeze ang assets ng declared or designated terrorist organization para mawalan sila ng wherewithal to commit terrorism in our country.”

“So once a foreign terrorist comes to the PH and designated ng UN pwede arestuhin yan under this act and if we have enough evidence to prosecute him here, we may do so. But if not we just have to deport that terrorist to the country where he came from.”

Providing Material Support to Terrorists:

“Now, providing material support, it must be proven the person who provided material support knowingly, alam nya sinusuportahan niya, terrorist organization. That has to be proven first. So hindi automatic na once a person provided material support to a proscribed terrorist organization, huli agad siya.”

Very explicit sa provision, kailangan knowingly. Kailangan alam ng nagbigay ng material support. Kasi halimbawa may terrorist na nagbomba, and a tricycle driver was hailed to be used as a mode of transportation. Definitely the tricycle driver doesn’t know the terrorist just conducted bombings. Hindi lang yan. Kung under duress siya hindi siya makakasuhan as providing support to the terrorist. Nariyan lahat.”

Reglamentary Period:

It doesn’t mean you have to exhaust the 2-week reglamentary period. If police are ready to file charges within 1.5 days or 1 day because the evidence is so clear they are confident they can come up with a conviction, they should not wait for the 24th day to file. Now extension, pag nag-extend hindi ito discretionary on the part of the police officers. They will have to present the person before the 14 days expire. They will have to present the person to the nearest judge. Remember, immediately after the arrest is conducted they will have to write the nearest judge where the person is arrested, informing him they have arrested such person.”

“Before the 14-day period expires and they still need to extend they will have to bring him to the court of the judge and ask for permission. If the judge does not give them permission they will have to release the person or file charges.”

Pag tinorture during the period of detention or reglamentary period, they will have to be liable for violating the Anti-Torture Act. Kung pinatay they have to face murder charges while in detention. Ang pinaguusapan natin is impelemntation na. What I am trying to emphasize are the provisions in the measure, that there are a lot of safeguards.”

The civil liabilities of the police officers hindi nawala yan naroon pa yan, di natin in-amend yan. Ang arrested suspected terrorist kung na-abuse siya at may mga damages incurred, he can still seek redress from the court and file civll damages against the police officers. Di natin inalis yan, inalis natin ang P500K per day of detention.”

Safeguards in Surveillance Period:

Under the present law, RTC lang nagbibigay ng judicial authorization. Under this proposed measure we elevated again the responsibility to the CA. May added safeguard pa rito, ang proceeds ng wiretapped conversation, electronic surveillance and everything, di pwedeng galawin ng law enforcement officers. Deposit nila sa designated or authorized division ng CA. di pwede galawin.”

“If the police is found to wiretap anyone, hanggang 10 years ang kulong. Under present law medyo magaan ang parusa sa anti-wiretapping. Pero ito tinaasan natin, just a mere wrongful act of wiretapping without judicial authorization from the CA, not an RTC, would make the police liable. Pwede siya makulong hanggang 10 years. Basta lagi tayong may katapat na safeuards dito.”

Claims the Anti-Terrorism Bill was Railroaded:

“Let’s go to the basics. Ang nasa law, ang mga provisions, ang mga safeguards. While the proposed measure may be tough, we inputted even tougher safeguards which are not present sa ordinary crimes na part ng law of the land. Ang railroading? Inumpisahan namin sa Senate ito I think Oct 2018, 17th Congress pa. And then it went to so many days of interpellation, period of amendments, and so on.



Nakakabahala in the sense na pwede isama yan sa scare tactics. For all we know, yung kumokontra ang nagpapakalat niyan para matakot ang mga tao by dishing out disinformation.”

“Maliwanag naman nakasulat lahat, this is a public document na pwedeng basahin ng mga tao to see for themselves kung totoo ba ang mga information na lumalabas para ma-influence sila na kumontra rito. For all we know, sila rin may gawa niyan, part ng scare tactics nila yan na mag-post sa FB or social media ng mga panakot.”

“Nakakita tayo nagde-demonstrate, activism is terrorism. Where in the world makita nila sa amin sa proposed measure kung ang activisim ay terrorism? Tapos sinasabi no to warrantless arrests. Lahat na crimes may warrantless arrests, wala tayong dinagdag o binawas. Ito ang mga disinformation campaign na kumakalat ngayon. Kaya ibalik ko sa kanila, baka sila rin may gawa ng trolls na nananakot na may dadamputin.”



I don’t see him to be fit and qualified or competent enough to continuously head the DOH. That’s why 14 senators including myself called for his resignation. So I think he should just go for the sake of the victims of the pandemic, for the sake of the department.”