TERRORISM continues to pose threat despite the present global challenges due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, President Rodrigo Duterte cautioned his fellow Southeast Asian leaders on Friday.
During the 36th annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit, Duterte emphasized the need to continue the implementation of tougher measures to combat terror acts.
Duterte made the call as he lamented that terror groups seemed to be unfazed by the COVID-19 outbreak as they continue to foment strife in other parts of the world.
“While the challenges we face due to COVID-19 are considerable, we must never forget that there are also other threats that can further undermine our effort. The pandemic has not killed terrorism. It remains alive, lurking in the shadows,” he said in a speech delivered online.
Duterte also expressed dismay that members of terrorist organizations are sowing discord in some virus-hit nations amid governments’ efforts to help people affected by the health crisis.
He encouraged his fellow Asean leaders to stay alert and protect the region from the threats of terrorism.
“In some countries, terrorist elements strike even during government’s relief operations,” Duterte said. “These acts are unconscionable and we must, therefore, be always on the alert.”
Duterte’s call came after he earlier certified the anti-terrorism bill as urgent to give the Philippines more teeth to curb terror threats and acts.
The proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 seeks to repeal Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act.
Under the measure, suspected terrorists can be detained for up to 24 days without a warrant of arrest.
A 60-day surveillance, with an allowable 30-day extension, can also be conducted by the police or the military against the suspected terrorists.
The bill also imposes a 12-year jail term on a person who voluntarily or knowingly joins a terrorist organization.
Malacañang on Wednesday said while Duterte is “inclined” to sign the anti-terror bill into law, he would not allow any constitutional infirmities in the proposed measure. PNA