OFFICERS and men of the Philippine National Police Intelligence Group and the Special Action Force have been reminded to fully adhere to the rule of law and strictly observe their duty to preserve human rights as they embark on a reinvigorated war on terror in the country, PNP chief, General Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan said.
Amid the release of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 11479, otherwise known as the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, Gen. Cascolan said the PNP-IG headed by Brigadier Gen. Edgar S. Monsalve and the PNP-SAF headed by Major Gen. Bernabe M. Balba will be the main PNP units to lead their crackdown against terror groups specifically those operating in the Southern Philippines.
The top cop said that the two special PNP units will fully partner with each other in conducting anti-terror operations following the rule of law.
Gen. Cascolan added that members of the two units will also be ‘trained much more on seaborne operations’ since they will be targeting members of the Abu Sayyaf and other ISIS-inspired terror groups, including those hiding in Mindanao or have transferred outside of the region including in Metro Manila.
At present, officers and men of the PNP-SAF are trained on search-and-rescue operations thru their Seaborne Rescue Operation and Seaborne Warfare Courses.
The SAF’s Special Action Company composed of ‘Seaborne Commandos’ gained fame for their role in the January 2015 effort to neutralize Southeast Asia’s most wanted terrorist Zulkfli bin Hir alias ‘Marwan’ leading to the killing of 44 SAF commandos.
A number of recent PNP-SAF and PNP-IG operations have seen officers chasing wanted terrorists fleeing on board motorized boats in Zamboanga peninsula, thus the need for them to be equipped with seaborne training and modern vessels and armaments.
PNP spokesman, Colonel Ysmael S. Yu said that officers and men of the PNP tasked by Gen. Cascolan to go after known terrorist groups in the country are under orders to fully follow the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 11479 otherwise known as The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 which ensures the protection of human rights and follow the rule of law.
“Our units tasked to conduct the country’s war on terror are under orders to strictly follow the rule of law and protect human rights at all times. We are making it clear that the law was not created to suppress the democratic rights of our people but only to give us members of security forces enough teeth to go after terror targets in our list,” said Yu.
The IRR of the law defines a ‘terrorist individual’ as ‘any natural person who commits any of the acts defined and penalized under RA 11479’ while ‘terrorist organization, association or group of persons’ refer to any entity organized for the purpose of engaging in terrorism or to those proscribed under Section 26 of the Act or the United Nations Security Council-designated terrorist organizations.
Yu referred to Rule 2.2 of the IRR which strictly says that in the implementation of the law, “the State shall at all times uphold the basic rights and fundamental liberties of the people as enshrined in the Constitution.’
The new law created the Department of Justice Anti-Terrorism Council which has been tasked to “ensure the proper and effective implementation of the policies of the State against terrorism by formulating and adopting comprehensive, adequate, efficient and effective plans, programs or measures in order to prevent, counter, suppress and/or eradicate the commission of terrorism in the country and to protect the people from such acts.’
PNP intelligence and investigative elements will be acting as among the support agencies to the ATC.
The IRR says that there is terrorism where the following elements concur: engagement in any of the following acts regardless of the stage of executive: acts intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to any person or to endanger a person’s life; acts intended to cause extensive damage or destruction to a government or public facility, public place or private property; acts intended to cause extensive interference with, damage, or destruction to critical infrastructure;
Developing, manufacturing, possessing, acquiring, transporting, supplying or using weapons or explosives intended to cause a disproportionate amount of damage or of biological, nuclear, radiological or chemical weapons; or releasing of dangerous substances, or causing fire, floods or explosions.
Another element is the purpose of engagement in any act to intimidate the general public or a segment thereof; create an atmosphere or spread a message of fear; provoke or influence by intimidation the government or any international organization; seriously destabilize or destroy the fundamental political, economic or social structures of the country; or create a public emergency or seriously undermine public safety.