By Camille A. Aguinaldo, Reporter
TOP security officials on Monday proposed an extended period of detention without warrant of arrest against suspected terrorists to 30 days from the present three days as prescribed under Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007 and the Revised Penal Code.
Also on Monday, an international survey conducted in 14 countries was released showing that terrorism and crime topped security concerns among Filipinos.
At the Senate hearing on the bill amending the anti-terrorism law, former Armed Forces chief and Interior Officer-in-Charge Eduardo M. Año said the 30-day period of warrantless detention will allow security forces to conduct an intensive investigation and to follow up on operations against terrorism.
“The 30 days will give a guarantee that the security forces can do its job properly,” he said.
For his part, Armed Forces chief Lt. Gen. Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. said the prolonged detention period will also help in disrupting terrorist attack plans.
Based on their experience, he said the military would not get any information from suspected terrorists in less than a week. He said even hardcore terrorists will not “break in” information in one or two weeks.
“The 30 days is also a preemptive measure wherein if there are also other conspirators that will have simultaneous terrorist attack, that 30 days is a good disruptive period wherein we can get new counteractions,” he said.
National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) Director General Alex Paul I. Monteagudo requested a provision that will also allow a further extension after the proposed 30-day period of detention.
“We are pushing really forward the amendment of the Human Security Act, and in fact, if I may just include that 30 days should even be extendable if necessary considering the investigation that we conduct does not only concern local or domestic networks but international networks which not only affect our country and other countries,” he said.
Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III has already provided the 30-day warrantless detention in his bill amending the Human Security Act. Under Senate Bill No. 1715, any law enforcement or military personnel can detain a suspected terrorist within a period of 30 days until he or she is delivered to the proper judicial authority.
However, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) found the proposed 30-day period may be problematic.
“We just have some issues because we believe that also under the Revised Penal Code it was stated that the period of detention should only last for only 36 hours or three days. And (with) the period of detention for 30 days without a warrant or any valid ground, I think we will be having a problem with that,” lawyer Jomaher Asalan of the CHR said.
Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, chair of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, said the matter will be discussed further, with the private sector invited in the next hearing.
“It will be subject to further discussion….They were able to preempt terrorist acts when they hold some people under custodial detention. But remember this is not as if anybody may be arrested. The rules will still be followed in warrantless arrests,” he told reporters after the hearing.
He is also targeting for the Senate to pass the proposed amendments to the Human Security Act before Congress adjourns in December.
According to the Peace Perception Poll 2018 of International Alert and the British Council, 26% of Filipinos are concerned about “criminal violence” in connection with President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s war on drugs.
The survey also showed that 29% of Filipino respondents believe the lack of employment and means to support families are reasons driving people to violence, while 15% said a sense of injustice can turn also people to violence.
Nikki Philline dela Rosa, International Alert’s country manager in the Philippines, said for her part, “The Bangsamoro Organic Law is a win in the decades-old peace process between the government and the rebels, and we hope that this will heal fissures in relationships and foster genuine autonomy, peace and development in the region in the long run.”
She added, “However, it is important that the causes of conflict are also addressed at the onset by ensuring education, gainful employment, and the chance to participate in governance, especially for Moro women and youth who would otherwise be more vulnerable to the influence of violent extremism.”
Also on Monday, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said it barred the entry of a Pakistani alleged to be a trainer of the terrorist group (ISIS) at the Clark International Airport last Sept. 22.
According to a statement, BI Officer in Charge Deputy Commissioner Marc Red A. Mariñas stated in his report to BI Commissioner Jaime H. Morente that the suspect, identified as 36-year-old Naeem Hussain, was intercepted at Clark International Airport on Sept. 22 on board an Emirates Airlines flight from Dubai.
He was immediately excluded from the passengers and was booked a flight to Dubai. “He was turned away because he is on our alert list of suspected international terrorists for being an alleged trainer of Daesh,” the BI chief said. — with Vince Angelo C. Ferreras and Vann Marlo M. Villegas