Discussing the Anti-Terrorism Bill Before the Rotary Club of Manila

Speeches

July 2, 2020 - At the meeting of the Rotary Club of Manila, Sen. Lacson holds the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 – and its critics – to the Rotary’s Four-Way Test. Sen. Lacson also answered questions on the Anti-Terrorism Bill after the speech.

Good afternoon.

It is good to once again see familiar faces, virtually at least. I am certain that moving from physical meetings and events to the digital realm is something that is new to all of us. Nevertheless, I find comfort in knowing that this pandemic could not shake the dedication of a Rotarian spirit in living up to its overarching motto: Service above self.

Your invitation says I have 30 minutes to speak. Since there are many points to cover in our virtual discussion today, I will cut to the chase and go straight to the issues at hand.

For the past couple of weeks, among the trending topics that have been dominating the mainstream and social media platforms is the Anti-Terrorism Bill, which as we speak, is awaiting the signature of the President. Unfortunately, the ongoing campaign against this proposed measure, heavily influenced by massive misinformation and disinformation, unfairly devalues the importance of this legislative measure on many fronts.

Hence, as the principal sponsor and one of the authors of the bill, it is incumbent upon me to take every available platform to shed light on the legislative intent and merit of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, as proposed.

As a Rotarian myself, I believe that nothing could better validate the ideals and virtue of the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act than subjecting it to Rotary’s guiding principles and moral code of the Rotary’s Four-Way Test, which every Rotarian knows by heart.

Allow me to begin with probably the most controversial provision under the Anti-Terrorism Bill, which is now being challenged as unconstitutional by former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio as well as IBP President Domingo Egon Cayosa. Both of them are asserting that Section 29 of the bill gives the Anti-Terrorism Council the power to order the arrest without judicial warrant of a suspected terrorist. Now you may ask — IS IT THE TRUTH? My answer is a resounding NO. Let me tell you why.

To be clear, the written authority issued by the ATC under Section 29 of the proposed bill is to be directed to its duly designated deputies such as law enforcement agents and military personnel specially tasked and trained to handle the “custodial investigation” involving violations of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 as proposed, considering the complexities and nature of terrorism. Not all police officers are trained interrogators and investigators, especially involving a crime as complex and complicated as an act of terrorism. These specially-trained law enforcement officers and military personnel shall need a written authority to be deputized by the ATC to perform such tasks.

The term “custody” in Section 29 of the Anti-Terrorism Bill pertains to the lawful custody after a valid warrantless arrest pursuant to Section 5, Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of Court. It is only after a valid warrantless arrest that the law enforcement agent or military personnel, authorized in writing by the ATC, may conduct a custodial investigation. Section 29 does not – does NOT – amend the Rules on Warrantless Arrest. Section 29 seeks to amend the reglamentary periods stated in Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code with regard to the crime of terrorism.

To clarify this issue, I even wrote to IBP President Atty. Cayosa to correct his misconceptions on the authority of the ATC. In his letter-reply, he said that “Section 29 could not refer to allowable warrantless arrest under Rule 113 because anyone can actually effect a warrantless arrest under Rule 113 without any need for any written authority from anyone.” Make no mistake. I am saying exactly the same thing. While it is true that anyone can effect a warrantless arrest, I was trying to make him understand that not everybody is trained to properly conduct a custodial investigation particularly of a crime as complex as terrorism. Atty. Cayosa, however, remains adamant in his own interpretation of Section 29 of the ATB notwithstanding receipt of my letter addressing his concerns.

To belabor this point as I must, the Anti-Terrorism Bill strictly complies with lawful warrantless arrest by virtue of the in flagrante delicto and hot pursuit rule under the Revised Rules of Court – in both cases, the arrests are immediate in nature. That said, it is illogical, inconsistent and even absurd to think that the ATC will issue a “written authorization” to an arresting officer before effecting the warrantless arrest granting the immediacy and spontaneousness of the circumstances leading to the arrest. In fact, when we asked Director General Alex Monteagudo of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) which is the Secretariat of the ATC, he said that never, since the passage of the Human Security Act in 2007, has the agency released a “written authority” to law enforcers to arrest or detain suspected terrorists. Isn’t that enough proof that the written authority mentioned in Section 18 of the Human Security Act of 2007, as similarly written in Section 29 of the Anti-Terrorism Bill, is never intended to authorize the ATC to order an arrest?

The TRUTH is – records of the Senate archives tell us that the phrase “having been duly authorized in writing by the Anti-Terrorism Council…” was originally an amendment introduced by an acknowledged legal eagle and an unquestionably experienced legislator in the person of the Senator Franklin Drilon in the Human Security Act of 2007, accepted by another giant in the legal profession, then sponsor of the Human Security Act of 2007, former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile. This phrase, which has been the subject of recent debates, is merely being retained in the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. Mind you — the same phrase contained in Section 18, entitled “Period of Detention Without Judicial Warrant of Arrest” of the Human Security Act of 2007, and which has the same language of Section 29 of the Anti-Terrorism Bill entitled “Detention without Judicial Warrant of Arrest,” was voted favorably by a number of distinguished legal experts and luminaries both in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Justice Carpio has declared in a webinar organized by the Management Association of the Philippines that Section 18 of the HSA, similarly worded as Section 29 of the ATB, was never declared constitutional by the Supreme Court.

If such statement does not have the trimmings of malicious intent to achieve a purpose known only to its author, it may be assumed Justice Carpio overlooked existing jurisprudence and the presumption of constitutionality. Let me explain. No less than the Supreme Court ruled on the matter of presumption of constitutionality in Tano vs Socrates (GR No. 110249 dated August 21, 1997), to wit:

“It is of course settled that laws (including ordinances enacted by local government units) enjoy the presumption of constitutionality. To overthrow this presumption, there must be a clear and unequivocal breach of the Constitution, not merely a doubtful or argumentative contradiction. In short, the conflict with the Constitution must be shown beyond reasonable doubt. Where doubt exists, even if well-founded, there can be no finding of unconstitutionality. To doubt is to sustain.”

That is the SC talking about presumption of constitutionality. Still, for the life of me, I cannot understand why a former senior magistrate of the SC would disregard such basic and significant jurisprudence. In any case, to allay any fears, Section 29 ensures safeguards to avoid abuses by requiring a written notification to be immediately given to the judge of the court nearest to the place of arrest, copy furnished the Anti-Terrorism Council. We have also included in the proposal for the same notification to be provided to the Commission on Human Rights – a requirement not present under the Human Security Act of 2007. I can only assume that perhaps some, if not most of you, have expressed concerns pertinent to the false assertions of the likes of Justice Carpio and Atty. Cayosa that a person may be arrested or detained on mere suspicion alone.

Again you may ask — IS IT THE TRUTH? Again, my response is NO. The legislative intent of the bill is clearly to premise Section 29 on a valid warrantless arrest “or what we also refer to as a citizen’s arrest,” as also lawfully allowed in other crimes that are not related to terrorism. The provision is compliant with Rule 113, Section 5 of the Revised Rules of Court. Under the proposed Anti-Terrorism Law, a warrantless arrest is allowed under the same circumstances as in any other crime, by virtue of: One, in flagrante delicto arrest or when the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit terrorism; and Two, in a hot pursuit arrest. It was never the intention of Congress to amend the rules on warrantless arrest.

Oppositions to this proposed measure went the extra mile by citing my statement during a Senate deliberation. Unfortunately, their extra mile was headed in the wrong direction at top speed. For instance, Justice Carpio quoted me by saying: “In the exact words of the principal author of the law, even if hindi naman siya nag-commit ng crime, hindi pa nangyari, puwede na natin arestuhin.”

Taking his word for it unjustly resulted in undue public fear and hysteria. Hence, let me be clear: the statement in question was in reference to acts preparatory to the commission of terrorism. In my response to Sen. Gordon, I made it understandable that we never intend to amend the rules on warrantless arrest or citizen’s arrest, and hence, safeguards are still in place. During the roundtable discussions that we had for this measure, among the key recommendations from the representatives of the Australian embassy was the need to adopt proactive measures that will prevent even the planning phase of the crime. Thus, I explained that under the proposal, we included the proposition to penalize “inchoate offenses,” or preparatory acts that are deemed criminal even without the actual harm being done, provided that the harm that would have occurred is one the law tries to prevent, such as terrorism. Preparatory acts, as a rule, are not punishable unless – I repeat, UNLESS – Congress, as a collegial body, includes in the law a provision to make preparatory acts punishable as independent crimes.

By way of example, the Revised Penal Code defines and penalized conspiracy and proposal to commit rebellion, treason, insurrection and coup d’etat. We added planning, training, preparing and facilitating the commission of terrorism under Section 6 as INCHOATE OFFENSES punishable under the bill because these acts are being performed towards the accomplishment of the desired purpose that is — terrorism. No less than the United Nations Security Council, in UNC Resolution No. 1373, declares that planning and preparation, among others, are established as serious criminal offenses in domestic laws and that the punishment should duly reflect the seriousness of such terrorist acts.

Let me cite a likely scenario: Kung makakita ang ating kapulisan o tropa ng militar habang nagpapatrulya sa isang liblib na kagubatan sa Basilan ng mga nagtitipon at nagsasagawa ng pagpaplano ng sabay sabay na pagpapasabog ng iba’t-ibang pasilidad ng irigasyon at tore ng linya ng kuryente, pati ang ilang simbahang katoliko at mga palengke, kumpleto ng kani-kanilang sketches sa mapa kung saan ang mga lokasyon ng targets nila, kasama na ang improvised suicide vests at detonating devices — gusto ba nating mangyari na hintayin muna ng awtoridad na may mangyaring aktwal na pagsabog at pagkitil ng buhay ng maraming inosenteng sibilyan bago nila isagawa ang panghuhuli sa mga taong halos nasa harapan na nila? Hindi pa ba maituturing na krimen ang ganung gawain kahit hindi pa nagaganap ang malawakang pagpapasabog? Iyun po ay isa lamang halimbawa ng INCHOATE OFFENSE na hinahangad na maparusahan sa ilalim ng panukalang Anti-Terrorism Bill. Kayo na po ang humusga.

Another wrongful assumption about the Anti-Terrorism Council is its alleged authority to detain suspected terrorists and to fix the period of detention to 14 days, extendible to another 10 days. I strongly and insistently refute this. Again, ATC has no authority to detain suspected terrorists. Ang mga nasabing probisyon ay policy decision ng Kongreso na naaayon sa saligang batas.

First, we can find the allowable periods for detention in Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code. Let me emphasize that the Revised Penal Code is a general law which Congress can amend. That said, the 14 day period of detention under the proposed Anti-Terrorism bill, being a later law once signed, will be treated as an amendment to the allowable periods stated in the Revised Penal Code.

Looking back at the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission in 1986, records would show that the ConCom delegates did not have any intention of restricting the powers of Congress to fix the allowable period of detention arising from an arrest. Clearly, the three-day limitation was incorporated in the provisions of Article VII Section 18 of the Constitution as a “safeguard” in case the President, in the exercise of his powers, suspends the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code on the other hand mandates the law enforcer to deliver an arrested person to the proper judicial authorities through the inquest prosecutor within the allowable periods of detention.

Moving on, as we test the proposed measure through the Rotary’s overarching dictum, let us try to resolve the question–IS IT FAIR TO ALL CONCERNED? Let me be clear that we urge public discourse on all social and political policy decisions, particularly, on a matter as important as the Anti-Terrorism Bill. We encourage openness and civil engagement for conflict resolution. But I dare ask you: when misinformation and disinformation erode the fundamentals of our debates, do we trust that fairness will gain ground? Do our public discourses – widely marred by fake news and misconceptions – remain fair in appreciating the merits and intent of the law? Does it remain fair to all concerned, more importantly to the greater Filipino masses?

As an example: oppositors are calling the bill a “draconian measure” because of the alleged coercive powers granted to the Anti-Terrorism Council. I would like to correct the mistaken notion that the Anti-Terrorism Council is a new feature under the Anti-Terrorism Bill. Let me emphasize that the ATC is a creation of the HSA in 2007 as a central policy-making, supervising, coordinating, and monitoring body of the government’s anti- terrorism efforts. Under the proposed bill, the ATC will function as it does since its creation. To say the least, ATC is not given any judicial or quasi-judicial authority, contrary to the widely disseminated fake news.

To be fair, under this proposed measure, the police and military will be held accountable in the implementation of the law. In fact, the bill provides that the penalty of 10 years will be imposed to any law enforcement agent or military personnel who will violate the rights of a detainee, together with an administrative charge that carries a penalty of dismissal from the service, cancellation of civil service eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual absolute disqualification from running for any elective office or holding any public office, as expressed in the proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill.

The Rotarian moral code also demands that, in times of doubt, we ask – WILL IT BUILD GOODWILL AND BETTER FRIENDSHIP? A key to Rotarians’ unique approach to addressing conflicts is fellowship — the process of building relationships and openness to resolve a point of conflict. As legislators, we adhere to the principle of fellowship by forging international understanding and peace among our community of nations. This includes harmonizing our laws with global standards against terrorism. Our present Anti-Terrorism Law or the Human Security Act restricts us from doing so. I ask you: do we build better friendships with other nations by harboring terrorists within our borders? Do we build goodwill by consciously allowing our lands to be the safe haven of terrorism? Lest we forget, as we speak, our country ranks 9th among countries in the world that were most negatively impacted by terrorism based on the Global Terrorism Index released in 2019.

Fact is, our present law is weak because we do not have targeted financial sanctions to stop the flow and use of funds or assets of terrorist groups. We have strategic deficiency in terms of the domestic designation process of terrorist individuals and organizations as provided by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373. Hence, the proposed measure intends to address this gap through the provisions laid down by Section 25, entitled “Designation of Terrorist Individual, Groups of Persons, Organizations or Associations.”

Designation serves as a mechanism to trigger the enforcement of targeted financial sanctions currently lacking in our present law. This mechanism, made possible only through an order issued by the Anti Money Laundering Council (AMLC), not the Anti-Terrorism Council – I repeat, not the Anti-Terrorism Council — could stop the flow and use of funds or assets to terrorist organizations or associations.

More so, “freezing of assets” under this proposed measure is also actually consistent with the existing provisions of Section 11 of RA 10168, otherwise known as the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012. The provision also complies with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 and for the purpose of preventing designated terrorists from accessing their funding by freezing their accounts so the same cannot be used to carry out a terrorist attack. A designated person is allowed under this measure to question the freeze order by filing the necessary petition with the Court of Appeals. We even added a provision under this bill to allow partial withdrawal of frozen funds/assets for humanitarian reasons as well as for reasonable family needs and sustenance of the designated person.

Justice Carpio has many times referred to this provision by saying, and I quote: “once so designated, the individual can now be arrested upon order of the ATC because the individual is engaged in terrorism.” This is plain and simple – wrong.

Arrests, same with detention, are not the intended consequences of “designation.” As I explained earlier, designation is purely an executive and administrative process intended to trigger the issuance of a “freeze order” of properties and assets of designated terrorist individuals or terrorist organizations or associations. I do not simply understand where the honorable magistrate based his arguments considering that not a single mention of the word “arrest” is found under Section 25 of the bill.

Justice Carpio must have confused “designation” with “proscription” of terrorist groups, organizations or associations. Designation is administrative and not criminal in nature. To effect an arrest, a designated terrorist group or organization must first be proscribed.

Proscription under Section 26 requires court intervention where a full blown hearing will take place before an organization may be considered a terrorist organization. It may be done only upon an application filed by the DOJ before the Court of Appeals, with due notice and opportunity to be heard given the suspected terrorist groups or organizations or associations. Even membership in a proscribed terrorist organization goes through the same due process of law where the burden is on the DOJ to prove.

Last, but definitely not the least – the Rotarian way of life compels us to examine the things that we think, say, or do based on a prevailing question, that is: WILL IT BE BENEFICIAL TO ALL CONCERNED? My fellow Rotarians, let me emphasize: Terrorism knows no timing nor borders. Terrorism in all forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to any nation’s peace and security. It sows fear and violence so broad and indiscriminate that everyone — literally you and me — could fall prey to these heinous acts of terror.

Over and over, we have heard critics saying that the Anti-Terrorism Bill is a threat to legitimate political dissent and freedom of speech. Please do not fall for this misconception. Let me show you that in defining “Terrorism” in the proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill, we included a proviso under Section 4 to guarantee the constitutionally protected right to free speech. It reads:

“xx terrorism as defined in this Section shall not include advocacy, protest, dissent, stoppage of work, industrial or mass action, and other similar exercises of civil and political rights, which are not intended to cause death or serious physical harm to a person, to endanger a person’s life, or to create a serious risk to public safety.”

In all of our discourses in understanding the definition of “terrorism”, we should bear in mind that ACT + PURPOSE should be the guiding principle. We should bear in mind that “terrorism” refers to both the commission of any of the terrorist ACTS in order to fulfill any of the PURPOSES mentioned under the bill.

Paulit-ulit kong sasabihin sa mga nagbibingi-bingihan na: ang Anti-Terrorism Bill ay para labanan ang mga terorista, hindi ang mga nagpoprotesta. This proposed measure is meant not to be beneficial for anyone else but the Filipino citizenry. It is a dismay that when misconceptions erode the very value of our public discourse, many jump into the wagon and lose sight of logic and reason.

Just to illustrate: known activist and lawyer Neri Colmenares said at a June 12 rally that “the Abu Sayyaf would continue killing regardless of whether there is an anti-terrorism bill in place.” Terrorists may think that way, but it remains the duty of the State to protect the people from such threat. And wouldn’t we be remiss in our duty as legislators and public servants, if we would just sit and wait until the next bombing or senseless beheading takes place? If there is one thing that I truly admire about the Rotarians, it must be every member’s unyielding commitment to the club’s philosophical cornerstone – Service above self.

Amidst the myriad of issues on Anti-Terrorism Bill, we have to keep in mind the principles of Rotarians’ conflict transformation — that is, empathy, truth, accountability, and fellowship. As active members of the society, let us be more discerning on our national issues and be drivers of meaningful laws for the best interest of the people — our shared commitment towards the ideal act of service.

Now more than ever, there remains the challenge before us to stand up for what we know passes Rotary’s ethical guide in achieving beneficial, sustainable, and scalable outcomes.

History will speak of how you have decided for the interest of our people. Let it be a transformational turn to speak clearly and resoundingly against terrorism.

The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 as a proposed law has one clear message: To terrorists who commit crimes against the Filipino people, against humanity, and against the Law of Nations, our policy will be one that is swift, effective and constitutional.

Again, I wish to thank the Rotary Club of Manila for this opportunity. Mabuhay po tayong lahat.

*****

On the reported call of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to President Duterte not to sign the Anti-Terrorism Bill:

“Ang guidelines, standards set by UN SC Resolution 1373, yan ang sinunod namin dito, yan ang parameters. Beyond that, the ATC cannot act on any request for designating a terrorist organization. So United Nations against United Nations. I think the UN SC members have read the provisions of this bill because sila nangulit sa amin dito. Unfortunately and I can safely assume that the one voicing (her) opinion against this measure, I doubt if (she) has read the provisions under the measure.”

“The reason why we amended the provisions of RA 10168, the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012, is because it has not been effective. While it had served as amendment to the HAS, there’s no mechanism to trigger the designation of terrorist groups. If you ask me if there’s a link between corruption and terrorist financing or violations of the AMLA with reference to terrorism, there could be some link. But having said that, there is a weakness or a gap in RA 10168 to make it more effective in preventing the flow of funds from the usual financiers of terrorist groups operating in the country.”

“To cite an example, the Marawi siege could have been preempted by authorities because there was no failure of intelligence insofar as the Marawi siege is concerned. But the flow of funds was almost unstoppable because the authorities could not act on the flow of such funds to finance the Maute group in coordination with ISIS because there’s something lacking in the law. That’s one of the purposes why we included in our amendments the provisions of RA 10168, by providing such mechanism to preempt or prevent the flow of funds to assist the terrorists, either homegrown or with links to some terrorist organizations in other parts of the world.”

(On Marawi’s rehabilitation), I think there are already moves to rehabilitate Marawi, only I submit that it’s taking quite some time before it takes off the ground. And it’s unfortunate. When focus was on the Marawi siege, everybody seemed to want to attend to the needs of the people there. But once the issue turned cold, it seems the government has somehow not really forgotten but neglected its duty to rehabilitate Marawi.”

I don’t think there was failure of intelligence because during the briefing when they were planning to declare martial law in Mindanao, we had a briefing from the security forces. They showed us video footages of the planning stage but could not act on it because under HSA there is no feature to prevent preparatory acts. And they could not stop the flow of money from ISIS to local Maute groups. They are helpless because there’s no mechanism under the present law now. That’s why we are trying to strengthen that to include inchoate offenses and provide mechanism for the freezing of assets and funds.”

On Potential Sovereignty Issues Involving Foreign Military Forces’ Participation vs Terrorists, Due to VFA or Similar Agreements:

“Regarding the VFA or SOVFA, because we have a similar treaty with Australia, they can only provide intelligence support or assistance to our troops. It is different when acting on the intelligence report submitted by such foreign military forces to our LEAs or military personnel, if it is compliant with the provisions of warrantless arrest, it is incumbent on military personnel or LEA to act in accordance with the provisions of Rule 113 Sec 5. Kung sa harap nila ang nagko-commit at accurate ang intel information, A1, and they chance upon these terrorist groups about to commit, actually committing, or has just committed, they can make or conduct arrests on the basis of lawful warrantless arrests.”

“Now if a foreign country or a foreign jurisdiction will just provide information or even evidence to convince the ATC to designate, as I mentioned earlier, it’s not binding. But if it’s compliant with UNSCR 1373, I mean the parameters or standards set, the ATC can now designate such association or organization as a terrorist organization.”

“But designation, I’d like to belabor the point to counter the assertion of Justice Carpio na pagka designated na the members can be arrested. No. Designation is different, it is just to trigger a request addressed to the AMLC to freeze the account. And there’s a process. It’s not as easy as freezing the account or assets. And the suspected organization can file a petition with the CA to question the freeze order issued by the AMLC, not the ATC.”

Let me emphasize foreign assistance is limited to intelligence support. Whether it’s human, technical or electronic intelligence. In the case of Marwan in Mamasapano and even in Marawi, our local military forces relied heavily on technical intelligence provided by our counterpart. But they are limited to such assistance. They cannot go hand in hand in hunting down or even operating physically against the suspected terrorist. And again I’d like to emphasize our local forces, military and police, should abide by provisions of Rule 113 Sec 5 on warrantless arrests.”

“I keep repeating that because ito naging bone of contention and ito naging subject of so many disinformation, that we are amending the Revised Rules of Court in this regard. You and I know Dean Valdez, we cannot do that. Congress cannot do that; it is incumbent upon SC to amend or revise Rules of Court. Ang pwede namin amend, reglamentary period of 36 hours or in the case of the HSA 3 days pwede namin amend because that’s so provided under the RPC which is a general law. And Congress is not prohibited from amending a general law like the RPC. Ito ang sinasabi na unconstitutional.”

I think that will come in handy in the IRR, ma-refine ang concerns ninyo about participation of foreign military forces and so forth. I don’t think we need to amend this bill once approved into law, enacted into law, but it can be refined in the crafting of the IRR.”

Designation by a foreign jurisdiction or even a supranational jurisdiction is not binding on the ATC to designate such organization as a terrorist organization. We are only bound by the guidelines or standards set by the UNSC Resolution 1373. There are 3 instances where an organization, association or group of individuals may be designated as a terrorist organization. By way of designation by the UNSC because we are bound by the guidelines set by the UN; Second, if the designation made by supranational organization or a (foreign) jurisdiction adheres to the guidelines set by the UN, the ATC may set such association as a terrorist organization.”

“But let me be clear on that. Once designated, it is only an administrative authority to designate. The authority remains with the AMLC to freeze the assets and accounts of the designated terrorist groups or organizations. The ATC on its own cannot. That could also pave the way for the ATC to file an ex parte petition with the CA through the DOJ, not necessarily the ATC, for proscription. And proscription necessitates court intervention. May due notice of hearing and so forth, just like what is actually happening now and what happened with the ASG.”

“In 2015 the ASG was proscribed as a terrorist organization but by a Basilan RTC. Under the bill, we elevated the level of authority to the CA and the SC will designate or authorize a division of the CA to handle proscription cases filed by the DOJ. And the burden of proof is on the DOJ. It is also the same on the membership. Once proscribed, the alleged members of the proscribed terrorist organization will have to go through the same due process of law. Hindi ito automatic na tinuro ng kapitbahay NPA ito assuming proscribed na CPP NPA, automatic arestuhin ang tao. No. Each and every individual will have to go through the same due process of law that has been done on proscription cases.”

Addressing the Disinformation Campaign vs the Anti-Terror Bill:

That’s the problem we encounter because the noise was so loud and compelling, nalunod kami sa propaganda. I would like to thank RCM for giving me this opportunity because I have guested in a webinar hosted by MAP. I wrote a letter addressed to Atty Cayosa of IBP, explaining trying to enlighten him na ang concept nila sa proposed measure, mali. But as I mentioned in my speech, he remains adamant. If you close your mind and refuse to listen to reason, nothing else can be done.”

“Justice Carpio in his column this morning, I am enlightened when I read his column, he’s no longer questioning the constitutionality. He shifted his concerns sa 14-day reglamentary period. He said there’s no more need to extend the reglamentary period, sabi niya ibalik sa 36 hours kasi sa HSA naging 3 days na yan; ibalik sa 36 hours. Anyway pag warrantless arrest ang basis ng pag-aresto, sinasabi niya di na maga-grant ng bail, siguradong made-deny ang bail ng suspected terrorist because of the circumstances under warrantless arrest like about to commit, committing, just committed, probable cause based on personal knowledge. But we’re looking beyond that. Kung ganoon ang panuntunan lang, denial ng bail lang ang desired purpose, e papaano ang conviction?

“Law enforcement agencies need more time to build up an airtight case against the terrorists. We must remember very complex and complicated ang terrorism, maraming cells ito. Di lang nahuli mo si Juan dela Cruz, tapos ka na. How about those preparing, engaged in preparatory acts or proposal to commit terrorism? You have to develop your evidence, strengthen your evidence to file a very strong case. Sayang naman ang pagod kung intelligence and all, all the surveillance and everything, tapos madi-dismiss ang kaso. We’re not only after bail denial. We’re after conviction to its final or logical conclusion.”

On the Sulu Incident:

It is unfortunate and tragic. But the NBI has already started its investigation. And it’s good that both CSAFP and the CPNP have agreed to let the NBI conduct the investigation. Ang take ko lang dito, I think this is not time for divisiveness between our security forces. They should also be decisive in first ferreting out the truth behind the killing of unfortunately 2 officers and 2 NCOs. And we should not stop at the investigation. We should really see the logical conclusion of the police officers involved if they really murdered mercilessly the Army officers and soldiers.”

Huwag sana magkaroon ng wedge because this will be exploited by those who will benefit – terrorists and armed insurgents. This is not the time for emotions to run high, to put it more clearly, and just wait for the investigation. Anyway the PNP has acted expeditiously by disarming and relieving the COP of Jolo in Sulu.”

Updates on the Bayanihan 2 Measure:

We are still in the process of reviewing the proposed measure sent by the Executive Department. And we will go through the same legislative process we followed when we enacted Bayanihan 1. The ARISE on its face could be a good approach to providing the stimulus that our business enterprises and industries need at this time. The initial reading of some provisions would suggest that only industries affected by the pandemic should benefit from the financial support or stimulus package being proposed by the executive branch. But we have not finished, my staff are reviewing all the provisions. And it will go through the same legislative process that we follow. We’ll update you accordingly once we have a good grasp of the different provisions of the proposed measure.”

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