PNP, AFP want 30-day detention for suspected terrorists

September 11, 2019

FROM 3-days to 30-days.

The Philippine National Police has proposed to the 18th Congress the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2019 which will allow the 30-day detention of suspected terrorists regardless if a case is filed or not to give security forces enough time to investigate a brewing terror plot in the country.

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 headed by General Oscar D. Albayalde 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 in the country.

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.

“The provisions of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code to the contrary notwithstanding, any police or law enforcement personnel or deputized law enforcement agency or military personnel, who having been duly authorized in writing by the Anti-Terrorism Commission has taken custody of a person charged with or suspected of the crime of terrorism or the crime of conspiracy to commit terrorism shall, proscribed in accordance with Section 24 hereof shall, without incurring any criminal liability for delay in the delivery of detained persons to the proper judicial authorities, deliver said charged or suspected person to the proper judicial authority within a period of 30 days counted from the moment the said charged or suspected person has been apprehended, or arrested, detained and taken into custody,” the proposal says.

However, the proposal says that the 30-day detention is allowed provided that the arrest of those suspected of the crime of terrorism or conspiracy to commit terrorism must result from technical surveillance and examination of bank deposits.

Both the PNP and the Armed Forces sees a 3-day detention for a suspected terrorist as “light.” Under the Human Security Act, a suspected terrorist can only be detained no longer than three days unless a Court or the Commission on Human Rights issues a written approval.

Top security officials say that a longer period of detention would also deter any potential terror plot especially if later on, the person is proven to have links to terrorist groups specifically those involved in major bomb plots.

“Thirty days would be enough for the security forces to conduct follow up investigation and operations. We do not need to maximize the 30 days. A terror attack can be neutralized within 30 days. Thirty days would just give the security forces a guarantee to be able to do their jobs properly,” said Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año.

Senator Panfilo ‘Ping’ M. Lacson, a former PNP chief had explained that to decide on the matter it is necessary to change first the definition of the word “terrorist” in the Human Security Act.

“We need to simply define it as someone who commits the act of terrorism and who has the intent to commit an act of terrorism. That is practical and logical. Because a terrorist does not always have to coerce the government to certain demands,” said Sen. Lacson who also noted that the Philippines is among countries in the world with weak anti-terrorism laws.

The PNP proposed law says that ‘conspiracy’ exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a terror act. On the other hand, it defines ‘foreign terrorists’ as any person who travel to a state other than their states or residence or nationality for the purpose of perpetrating, planning or preparing for, or participating in, terroristic acts or providing for or receiving terrorist training.

They also include individuals residing abroad who come to the country to engage in terroristic activities.  The PNP describes ‘terrorist’ as any  person who commits violation of the Revised Penal Code regardless of its stage of execution ‘with the intent to sow widespread extraordinary fear and panic.’

They include piracy and mutiny in the high seas or in the Philippine waters, rebellion or insurrection, coup  d ‘etat including acts committed by private persons, murder, crimes involving destruction including arson, use of toxic substances and hazardous and nuclear wastes, hijacking, piracy highway robbery, illegal drug and firearms trafficking, trafficking in persons and major cybercrime activities.

(to be continued)