Human rights safeguards included in Anti-Terrorism Law proposal

September 12, 2019

ENOUGH safeguards are in place in the Philippine National Police legislative proposal to allow the detention of suspected terrorists for 30 days from the previous three-day limit regardless if a case is filed or not filed to give security forces ample time to investigate a looming terror plot in the country, the Journal Group learned yesterday.

The PNP headed by General Oscar D. Albayalde has proposed to Congress the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2019 which will allow the 30-day detention of suspected terrorists. In pushing for an act amending certain provisions of Republic Act No. 9372 otherwise known as “An Act to Secure the State and Protect our People from Terrorism”, the PNP leadership underscored the need to detain suspected terrorists for a much longer time to arrest their dangerous plots.

Under Section 18 of its proposed “Anti-Terrorism Act of 2019”, the PNP wants a 30-day period of detention without judicial warrant of arrest. It also proposes life imprisonment for convicted terrorists.

The legislative agenda was forwarded to the 18th Congress by the PNP Directorate for Plans headed by Major General Jonas B. Calleja as part of the PNP’s effort to effectively address insurgency and serious threats to national security including terrorism.

However, the PNP proposal said that before detaining the person suspected of terrorism, the concerned police or law enforcement personnel shall present him or her before any judge at the latter’s residence or office nearest the place where the arrest took place at any time of the day or night.

“It shall be the duty of the judge, among other things, to ascertain the identity of the police or law enforcement personnel and the person or persons they have arrested and presented before him or her to inquire of them the reasons why they have arrested the person and determine by questioning and personal observation whether or not the suspect has been subjected to any physical, moral or psychological torture by whom and why,” the PNP proposal said.

It adds that “the judge shall then submit a written report of what he/she had observed when the subject was brought before him to the proper court that has jurisdiction over the case of the person thus arrested. The judge shall forthwith submit his/her report within three calendar days form the time the suspect was brought to his/her residence or office.”
The PNP proposal also states that “immediately after taking custody of a person charged with or suspected of the crime of terrorism or conspiracy to commit terrorism, the police or law enforcement or military personnel shall notify in writing the judge of the court nearest the place of apprehension of arrest of the following facts: the time, date and manner of arrest; the location of the detained suspect; and the physical and mental condition of the arrested suspect.”

The PNP has proposed the penalty of imprisonment ranging from 10 years and to 12 years for any law enforcement or military personnel who will fail to notify the judge of the information prescribed by the law. Section 28 of the same proposal pertains to the “period of detention in the event of an actual or imminent terrorist attack.”