Fight against terrorism bostered -- Gamboa

PHILIPPINE National Police chief General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa yesterday expressed the overwhelming approval by the Philippine law enforcement community of President Duterte’s enactment of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2002.

“This measure will add more teeth to the government’s aggressive stance against domestic terrorism and bolster the Philippines’ international commitment against terrorist organizations that operate across national borders,” he told a press conference at Camp Crame.

Gen. Gamboa assured the country that the new law will not be abused and that the PNP will faithfully observe safeguards in its implementation.

President Duterte signed the anti-terror law as part of the government’s serious commitment to stamp out terrorism “which has long plagued the country and has caused unimaginable grief and horror to many of our people, said Presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque.

“As we have previously stated, it is better late than sorry, despite being the latest country the Asia-Pacific that passed an anti-terrorism law, because we can never be able to quantify loss of lives, property and opportunities in a scenario of 'panic and fear' should we find ourselves caught in the middle of a single incident of terrorism in the same magnitude as the 9-11 in New York in 2001, the 7-7 in London in 2005, and the Rizal day 2000 bombing in Manila, and the Siege of Marawi City in 2017,” Gen. Gamboa said.

According to the PNP chief, the  recent discovery of a financial conduit of the Dawlah Islamiya in Manila operated by an active cell composed of local Abu Sayaff Group sleeper operatives “should serve as a wake-up call for  law enforcement and the community to heighten our vigilance against terrorist groups actively operating in our midst.”

“Your PNP listens to and fully understands the concerns of the public and you may rest assured that we shall faithfully uphold all institutional mechanisms that provide safeguards to the  implementation of this law to its fullest effect,” he declared.    

WAITING FOR IRR OF THE LAW

Gen. Gamboa said that they will fully participate in the creation of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the new ant-terror law which repealed the Human Security Act of 2007 and allows the detention of suspected terrorists for up to 24 days without charges.

It  also gives an Anti-Terrorism Council composed of Cabinet members the authority to designate individuals or groups as suspected terrorists and order their surveillance and arrest without warrants.

The PNP chief said he has told Senator Panfilo ‘Ping’ M. Lacson, the principal sponsor of the measure who happened to be a former PNP chief  that there will be a group of selected people who will train to help implement the law and make the police understand the implications of their act under the new measure.

He mentioned a plan to have a "special unit composed of special people" who need to completely appreciate the new law and implement it as soon as they already have its IRR.