Kapihan sa Senado forum | Feb. 27, 2020

At the Kapihan sa Senado forum, Sen. Lacson answered questions on:

– Passage of the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020

– Senate’s planned petition before the Supreme Court regarding VFA abrogation

– Congress’ possible actions regarding ABS-CBN’s franchise

QUOTES and NOTES:

* ANTI-TERRORISM BILL:

Effectiveness of New Proposed Anti-Terror Act:

“I hope so. This underwent a series of consultations from resource persons, from different groups like CHR.”

“Let’s face it. Naging parang new normal especially in other countries, and our country is not exempted from this, naging new normal ang acts of terrorism. Every now and then we’ll be hearing about suicide bombers. Nagkaroon tayo ng first case of suicide bombing very recently. At ang ISIS narito na sa PH. So it’s about time we strengthen our laws against terrorism.”

Satisfied in the sense na na-enhance ito sa pamamagitan ng mga interpellation at amendments. And it took us 2-3 weeks, continuous ang interpellations pati amendments. We started the period of interpellations last Dec 19. Nagkaroon ng December break, but when we came back, dire-diretso yan, walang patid, walang gap, walang lull. Dire-diretso sa period of amendments until yung approval on 2nd and 3rd reading.”

Counterpart Anti-Terror Bill in House of Representatives:

“I think they are still at the committee level. Hindi pa nire-report out sa floor. But some groups are working with the HOR to fast-track their passage, ang version nila, para madala kaagad ito.”

“Hindi siguro (matagal). Ang alam ko may nagfu-full court press doon.”

Safeguards vs Possible Human Rights Violations, Other Abuses:

“Yes, more than enough safeguards.”

That is the essence of democracy dahil deliberative body. At the end of the day, after the discussions and debates, magkakaroon ng botohan. And of course we respect, I know for sure where they are coming from, especially Sen Risa, and she approached me yesterday to air her sentiments na hindi naman talaga siya totally against the passage of the measure, but ang mga concerns niya regarding some provisions na pinag-usapan nang masinsinan. Hindi mo naman talaga masa-satisfy lahat. Especially a measure like this na contentious talagang may hindi sasang-ayon. So we understand their position.”

Lahat naman may legal procedures na susundin. Hindi naman pwedeng basta mag-conduct ng electronic surveillance or whatever kind of surveillance kung di ka kukuha ng permiso sa korte. In fact, hindi lang RTC sa intervention ni Sen Drilon, inakyat pa namin ito sa CA ang pagkuha ng judicial authorization to conduct surveillance. Pati ang proscription under the current law, RA 9732, ang HSA, RTC lamang ang magpo-proscribe. Pero in this proposed measure, in-elevate din yan sa Court of Appeals, the reason being baka kasi sa dami ng RTCs – and I agreed with Sen Drilon – na baka ma-abuso naman ang pag-i-issue ng order of proscription. Remember, may feature dito na hindi lang proscription per se but nagkaroon ng preliminary order of proscription, parang TRO ito, within a certain period of time, pwedeng ang mga member na nakalista after due process is observed, pwedeng arestuhin at ikulong temporarily within a reglamentary period of 14 calendar days. Pero limited ang period na sa 20 days na kailangan either i-lift ang preliminary order of proscription or gawing permanent. Lahat na safeguards naman naroon. Ang arrest without warrant, susundin pa rin ang panuntunan sa pag-aresto ng walang warrant, ang citizens’ arrest. Kailangan ang crime has just been committed, about to be committed, or being committed; at may personal knowledge ang law enforcement officer na magko-conduct ng arrest. Hinabaan ang reglamentary period. But may safeguards ding nakapaloob doon. Kailangan inform agad ng law enforcement officer na nagsagawa ng warrantless arrest ang isang judge nearest the place of arrest. Inform ang CHR. At ang visitation rights naroon. Walang limit ang pagdalaw ng abogado at babasahan din siya ng kanyang rights under the Constitution, to remain silent, and so forth.”

“So naroon lahat na safeguards. Why did we decide to increase the reglamentary period from the regular 36 hours to 14 working days? It is because hindi ordinary crime against persons or property but crime ito against humanity. At ang impact nito sa destruction ng lives and property masyadong massive and masyadong indiscriminate. And we’re just trying to be at par with other countries especially neighboring countries natin. Singapore ang reglamentary period 732 days. Tapos pwede pa mag-extend indefinitely. Ang ibang countries like Malaysia, tayo ang isa sa pinakamababa, 14 days reglamentary period para mag-detain without warrant.”

Dinagdagan namin ang penalty for law enforcers na mag-aabuso. Increase ito hanggang 10 years. Hindi ganoon kadali magkaroon ng abuso. Of course, other pertinent laws like anti-torture act, mag-a-apply yan pero simple violations, if passed into law ang Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, in-enhance pa namin. Mas nadagdagan pa. Basta enhance namin ang penalties to be imposed on law enforcement officers na nag-a-abuse.”

“I think that (safeguard) should be enough. Other pertinent laws kung pinatay mo ang suspect, murder ang kaso. Kung torture mo, magva-violate ka ng Anti-Torture Law. So naroon pa rin yan pero ang ibang violations like not complying with the provision of informing the nearest judge or informing CHR, tinaasan namin ang parusa. Pati ang infidelity in the custody of detention prisoners.”

(Ang pag-uphold ng) freedom of expression naroon, ang freedom of assembly naroon. Napakaklaro sa batas na hindi kasama ang activities na in the exercise of legitimate dissent. Hindi kasama yan doon. Dinefine namin ang acts of terrorism in such a way maliwanag ang intent and purpose naroon within the context of violation, terrorism.”

May due process yan, di ganyan kadali na nag-petition ang gobyerno o DOJ para ma-proscribe ang isang organization as a terrorist organization hindi ganoon kadali. It will undergo due process. Lahat na safeguards nariyan. At saka even if a terrorist organization is proscribed hindi rin kadali na member ka ng NUJP automatically arestuhin ka. No. May due process sa individual members. At I don’t think NUJP will be tagged as a terrorist organization.”

“Even CPP-NPA, there’s a pending petition. I think this has been going on for the last 2 years sa Manila RTC. Nagkaroon ng dismissal and I think there’s a motion for reconsideration ngayon na given due course, I think RTC 19 sa Manila. Even that napaka-tedious ng dadaan na proseso bago magkaroon ng order of proscription.”

Removal of P500,000 Compensation for Those Wrongfully Detained:

Yan ang dahilan ang pulis, NBI and even the AFP are hesitant to file charges using the HSA kasi takot sila pagka na-dismiss ang kaso pamultahin sila ng P500,000 per day of detention. Even in the Marawi siege, hindi sila nag-file ng cases in violation of the HSA. Ang ginawa na lang nila, mga murder and multiple murder cases ang file nila. Kasi natatakot sila pag na-dismiss ang kaso multahin sila ng P500,000 a day. Kaya naging virtual dead letter law ang RA 9732, hindi mai-apply. And since 2007 when the HSA was enacted into law, isa lang ang naging conviction. At saka ang proscription ng ASG, it took the court 11 years bago nakapag-proscribe ng ASG. Alam natin how dreaded the ASG is. So yan ang mga weakness ng batas that brought us to the conclusion na dead letter law, parang hindi ma-implement ang batas so sayang. And naiwanan tayo ng ibang countries, European, western countries at saka ating neighboring countries dito. Ang iniiwasan natin is to make the Philippines a safe haven for terrorists kasi napakagaan ng ating batas, napakahina.”

Nothing will prevent them (those wrongfully arrested) from seeking compensation once they are wrongfully accused of the crime under this measure. Nasa statutes yan, nasa Civil Code… That is well within their rights to seek compensation or even exact criminal liabilities from those who wrongfully arrested and detained them.”

“(Tinanggal ang P500,000 per day provision kasi) naging helpless ang law enforcement, takot sila sa multa na P500,000 per day. Saan sila kukuha ng pangmuluta kung na-dismiss ang kaso? Kaya sabi ko kanina even Marawi siege na klarong acts of terrorism ang mga naganap doon, ayaw nila mag-file ng violation of HSA; ang file nila RPC offenses like murder, destruction of property, illegal possession of firearms, ganoon lang. so naging toothless ang batas, we deemed it wise to repeal, not even amend. But we adopted some provisions under HSA.”

Foreign Individuals/Groups May Be Considered Terrorists:

“Ang designated persons, meaning pag UN na-declare na as a terrorist ang isang tao at na-accuse sa ibang bansa, pwede nang i-consider din as a terrorist. Of course, rule of evidence din ang masusunod. But we can only acquire jurisdiction over that person once he or she steps on PH soil. Hindi naman natin pwede ma-acquire ang jurisdiction kung wala sa atin ang isang tao.”

Claims that Some Groups were not Consulted:

“Ang claim ni former Rep Casiño na hindi sila consulted, that is wrong, that is disinformation. We invited them to attend the committee hearings but they did not appear to attend. We also invited CHR, we invited CSOs, NGOs, marami, lahat. Pati academe in-invite namin lahat ito para magkaroon ng malawak na consultation before I reported this out on the floor for plenary debates. Talagang sinigurado namin the whole spectrum para makuha namin iba’t ibang sides. And more or less we copied our version from other jurisdictions like Australia, UN, US, Singapore. Marami kaming kinonsulta rito.”

***

* VFA ABROGATION

Possible Senate petition before Supreme Court:

(T)he Senate President and several senators are planning to also file a similar petition, but now involving the abrogation of VFA. Assuming without preempting, if the SC decides in favor of the petitioners, ang mangyayari riyan, hindi ba ang ratification would need a 2/3 supermajority vote of the Senate? Kung mag-rule in favor of the petitioners, kailangan din ng 2/3 vote pag withdraw. So nothing is final if that happens. The ball will be in the hands of the senators, at least 2/3 or 16 of us.”

“Nagkausap kami ni SP kagabi, I think next week (ifa-file ang petition). Fina-finalize ang petition. And next week ifa-file yan. We’re not sure yet who among the senators will sign the petition as co-petitioners. But I for one will join the SP in the filing of the petition as a co-petitioner.”

Pag nag-rule ang SC sa pending na yan, magkaroon ng tinatawag ng abogado na obiter dictum, meaning may strong opinion. So it could very well pave the way parang gagaang na kung sakaling i-file ang petition sa abrogation. Dahil hindi masasaklaw ang petition sa withdrawal ang sa abrogation, depende sa wording. But at the very least magpo-provide ng obiter dictum or strong opinion or parang may precedent, dahil ito na ang decision. Why would it not apply also to similar agreements?”

“180 days, and the formal termination will be on Aug 9. Kasi 180 days from the notice ang once na-receive ang notice. Still, baka may developments na mangyari na baka hindi rin maisakatuparan ang formal termination. Remember there’s a pending petition in the SC but this concerns another issue, ang withdrawal from the ICC. It’s still pending in court.”

Some Cabinet members not in favor of VFA abrogation:

“We talked to several Cabinet members, I won’t mention at baka malasin pa. But they are actually against the abrogation, at least pag kami-kami lang, di sila nag-hesitate magsabi na mali ang decision to abrogate because we have not prepared for it.”

“Maraming takot kay Presidente. Nag-e-express sila pero lagi sila nananantsa ba, na kung how to bring it to his attention, how to dissuade him from proceeding sa abrogation. And sa tingin lang mukhang made up ang mind ni PRRD. But there are times na medyo parang lumalambot. But that’s where we are right now.”

“Ang mga nakausap namin halos unanimous sila magsabi, not really against, but meron silang apprehensions and reservations sa pag-abrogate. Wala pa akong nakausap na all-out in supporting PRRD to abrogate.”

“At the very least may reservations; may apprehension sila sa pag-abrogate.”

Hindi mo maialis (ang low morale sa ilan) kasi different opinions, depending on where they are coming from. Siyempre may morale nila maapektuhan especially sa military at sa police kasi sila ang more or less directly, pag inalis mo ang VFA parang hinubaran mo ang MDT. Ang nangyari riyan, sabi nga ng mga from the US, yan ang legal protection nila. Kasi what if sa joint exercises, may nadisgrasya? Walang legal cover, walang legal protection, which the VFA is providing. So once the VFA is formally terminated, ang MDT will just be as good as a paper treaty. Hindi nila i-implement yan. Nariyan lang yan, maybe they will not abrogate unilaterally pero hindi nila ito gagamitin as a treaty that is being implemented kasi gusto nila laging may protection. But there’s no saying na parehas ang VFA. In fact talagang masyadong argabyado ang PH doon pag binasa moa ng provisions sa VFA dahil ang jurisdiction sa criminal acts, pati pag-drive, maraming provisions na kumbaga ang disparity in terms of rights and privileges, lamang na lamang ang US.”

Siyempre nag-decide ang Presidente, alangan kumontra pa. We are not trained that way sa military and police. Sa amin pag sinabi ng CIC ito ang decision, we all support. So they will all support the decision of the President, right or wrong. Kasi pag di nila sinunod, decision na yan. Pwede mag-discuss while processing the decision. Pero once the decision is made by the CIC or any commander for that matter, everybody follows.”

***

* ABS-CBN ISSUE:

Legal Questions on Provisional Permit from the NTC:

Hindi makapag-issue ng provisional permit ang NTC kung walang legislative franchise. And legislative franchise as the name connotes dapat batas yan.”

“May controversy kailan talaga mag-expire, pwede ba ang provisional permit, maraming interpretations. But may mga existing jurisprudence na rito, ang latest yata ang 2003 penned by former CJ Puno. He very clearly discussed the ruling sa decision na yan. Without a legislative franchise, NTC cannot issue a provisional permit. So I don’t know where the HOR, the leadership at least, is coming from when they wrote NTC to issue a provisional permit.”

“Klaro naman sa batas; ang legislation nasa amin, wala sa NTC. Ang NTC is a regulatory body, sila mag-i-implement pero klaro sa jurisprudence which is now part of the law of the land na without a legislative franchise, meaning batas, hindi mag-i-issue ng provisional permit ang NTC. So kung mag-e-expire ang franchise ng ABS-CBN on May 4 kasi hindi naman ito ang date of passage ng batas kundi 15 days after publication kaya May 4 ang computation ni SOJ. Kung walang intervention na mangyari at walang legislative franchise na ma-issue mag-expire sa May 4 yan kasi 15 days ng publication 25 years ago.”

“I don’t know paano gagawin kasi pinasa nila ang bola sa Kongreso, we need a resolution. A resolution does not have a force or effect of a law. Even joint resolution because of the SC decision very recently, we cannot amend a law through a joint resolution of both Houses. Iba na ang labanan. Kailangan talaga, may mga bills na, i-hear ang bill, pass on third reading, mag-bicam if there is a need for a bicam, and then enroll it papunta sa Office of the President.”

“On May 4, pag walang intervention, ang frequency ng ABS-CBN babawiin na ng NTC. And it will now be up for grabs ng mga mag-a-apply ng legislative franchise.”

“How do you extend without issuing a provisional permit? The legislative franchise expires on May 4. So maski 1,000 joint resolutions na walang effect and force of law ang ipadala namin sa NTC, anong gagawin ng NTC after May 4? Expired pa rin yan.”

“Simple lang ang interpretation. Nag-expire ang lisensya mo. Pwede bang sabihin ng Senate sa LTO, oy extend mo nga yan, without applying?”

Joint Resolution, Concurrent Resolution:

“Ang concurrent resolution if at all is a sense of the Senate. Mas may force ang joint resolution pero because of the recent jurisprudence, wala na ring force or effect of a law. So whether it’s a joint or concurrent resolution, hindi ito pwede gamitin ng NTC para mag-issue ng provisional permit because a provisional permit comes after a legislative franchise is issued to the corporation.”

“That is why SP Sotto and I have been discussing about this, if we will sign the joint or concurrent resolution. We are still debating with our wits if we will join in the signing of that concurrent resolution. Because if it is a useless piece of paper at walang effect ng batas, at saka alam namin based on our discussion and inquiries with lawyers knowledgeable sa franchise, alam naming balewala yan. Hindi magagamit ng NTC ang joint or concurrent resolution to issue a provisional permit. So nagmumukha lang kaming nakakatawa gagawa kami ng resolution na alam naming maski halimbawa gawin ng NTC magissue ng provisional permit illegal din yan. Pwede ma-question sa SC madadamay pa kami…”

Kung hindi ito parang in-authorize ang NTC to issue a provisional permit or to extend, pipirma kami. Pero kung sa concurrent resolution parang inuutusan namin o sinasabihan namin ang NTC mag-issue ng extension or provision, I don’t think I or SP will sign. Kasi parang that’s an encroachment on the (authority) ng HOR kasi kailangan batas talaga eh.”

“I heard ex-CJ Puno, sinabi niya ang practice cannot make a law. Kung ang letter ng law ganito, maski pina-practice yan before, it will not justify legally na gawin mo. Kasi parang dito sa Senate … parang pinapayagan but legally speaking, hindi binding legally kung meron kaming ginagawa na pina-practice ng ninuno namin.”

We can always express the sense of the Senate but how effective legally would that be? That’s another question.”

“Meron kaming reservation ni SP kung magjo-join kami sa pagpirma ng joint or concurrent resolution. Huwag na concurrent resolution kasi maski FMD sinabi niya sense of the Senate lang yan. Ang joint resolution, di rin pupuwede kasi ang nurse party list ruling na hindi nakaka-amend ng joint resolution ng batas. So saan tayo pupunta? Magpapasa tayo ng batas.”

House’s ‘Inaction’ on Bills for ABS-CBN’s Franchise:

“You can say that, it’s really unfair to (ABS-CBN). Hindi nila kasalanan kasi hindi sila late mag-file ng application na translate into bills. There are at least 11 bills pending in the HOR. I don’t know, kasi sinasabi naman ng Pangulo wala siyang tinatawagang congressman para huwag i-hear, but you know lahat na pronouncements doon papunta. And I really don’t know if the President is the wisdom of the day or a terror. It’s either one, kasi basta nagsalita siya parang yun na. So is he the wisdom of the day?”

“Kami walang problema sa Senate, we act more independently than HOR. Whether they admit it or not, that’s a reality. And that’s a reality we have to live with na sa House, talagang pag nagsalita ang Presidente, sa amin we act more independently sa Senate. 24 lang kami pero 24 republics kami rito.”

Ang legislative franchise kasi separation of powers. Parang kami, lawmaking, and nobody can force us to pass a law. Walang ganoon sa Constitution pag ganito may urgency kailangan ipasa nyo yan.”

“Sabihin na natin abdication, negligence, dereliction, pero wala naman sa Constitution na pwede i-sanction ang institution, which is Congress, pagka hindi nagpasa ng batas pertaining to anything mapa-franchise man ito o kung anong klaseng batas, walang ganoong provision sa Constitution.”

“Sa amin 30 session days, gaano kahaba yan. Kung 3 days a week ang session magbilang kayo kung aabot pa, pero idi-discharge mo ang chairman at mag-appoint ng iba o ita-takeover ng body ang pag-hear. Remember pag walang ginawa. Pero kung nagkaroon ng hearing may ginawa na siya. So mag-umpisa ka bumilang ng 30 session days.”

Speaker Cayetano’s Claim of Waiting for Issue to Cool Down:

“That’s his call as the Speaker, and that’s the call of the chair of the appropriate committee. Ang chair lalo sa amin sa Senate, independent ang mga chairmen. Hindi nakikialam ang SP kung kailan mo gusto i-hear o kung ayaw mo i-hear. Kung ayaw mo i-hear man lang at 30 session days hindi mo man lang ginalaw ang bill na referred to your committee, that’s the time the whole body in plenary will act accordingly. Di mo ginagalaw yan, tatanggalin namin sa iyo yan.”

If NTC Allows ABS-CBN to Operate Beyond May 4:

“Kung may mag-file ng kaso. Usurpation of authority siguro. Kung walang mag-question, e di tuloy lang, gamitin ng ABS-CBN ang frequency. E di manood tayo ng ‘Ang Probinsyano’ tuloy-tuloy walang problema. Pero pag may nag-question at sabihing mali ginawa ng NTC, may magawa ba ang NTC kung order ng court?”

Can Senate Tackle Franchise Bill Before March Break?

“We tackle bills on franchises minsan sa isang hearing, 3-5. Sa floor ganoon din pag nagdebate 3-5 bills simultaneously.”

“Even last 3 days namin kasi 2 days na lang bago mag-break. Kung transmit sa amin ng House ang House version kaya pa rin yan, enrolled yan before we go on break. I for one, I’ll make my vote known already. I’ll vote for the renewal of the franchise. There’s no reason hindi ka bumoto kasi bumoboto ka naman noong nakaraang panahon.”

Realistically yes (kung kaya pa). Even ang last week namin. We’ll go on break March 12. Ang March 9-11, basta Monday say March 9, kung ma-transmit sa amin, kaya yan. Simple ang franchise.”

“Based on our informal discussions wala akong nakitang problema sa botohan.”

On House Waiting for Go-Signal from President Duterte:

You can say that. Medyo obvious naman yan. No-brainer naman yan dahil ang oft-repeated pronouncements against ABS-CBN, telling masyado yan. Ang HOR naman ayaw kumilos unless biglang sabihin na sige, i-hear nyo na yan ipasa nyo na yan, unless sabihing ganoon. That’s reality. They can deny, they can disown, they can disclaim. Pero kita naman natin. Ang ostrich ibaon mo ulo sa buhangin kita pa rin buntot mo. Mahirap itago kung masyadong obvious.”


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