The Human Security Act (HSA), which is the law against terrorism enacted in 2007, is so ineffective that it had led to a single conviction, which is that of extremist Nur Sapian by the Taguig City Regional Trial Court, despite the many instances of attacks including the 2017 Marawi City siege.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday certified a bill that will plug the loopholes in the current law against terror acts and that will effectively repeal the toothless HSA.
The President’s backing is expected to expedite the approval of the bill.
Rody said in his letter to legislators that the bill is needed “to adequately and effectively contain the menace of terrorist acts for the preservation of national security and the promotion of general welfare.”
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the target is to have the law passed before Congress goes on a recess on 5 June.
The proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 particularly extends the number of days suspected terrorists can be detained without a warrant of arrest, from three days under the current law to up to 14 days, extendable by another 10 days.
It also removed the provision under the HSA that orders the payment of a ridiculous P500,000 in damages for each day that a person is detained under a false terrorism allegation.
The yellow senators, instigated by their communist allies, diluted the HSA into uselessness, thus, wasting the chance to catch enemies of the state and prevent bloodshed during the 12 years it is in effect. It also wasted the previous efforts of the legislature in passing a defective law.
Still the Liberal Party sentinels opposed the new law, saying it will arm the police and the military in harassing legitimate opposition and that it is an “infringement” to basic human rights.
Months before, after the Christmas holiday, Rody wanted the law passed just as he indicated that martial law in Mindanao triggered by the Marawi incident will be lifted.
Last January the emergency imposition in Mindanao was removed even without the desired measure against terror acts.
The impending law will be particularly crucial due to reports of communist rebels forming an alliance with pro-Islamic State groups for a common goal of toppling the government.
The communist movement’s claim, however, is that the proposed law will be used to silence legitimate dissent.
Its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), gets its recruits mainly from minorities and other Filipinos perceived as oppressed, which is an exact copy of the IS strategy in building up its armed capability in the Mindanao hinterlands.
The similarity of tactics and aims of the groups makes them both enemies of the state.
The difference lies in the fact that communist rebels are courted for peace negotiations and get concessions, such as for Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Joma Sison to even nominate Cabinet members unlike IS rebels who are hunted and killed.
The communists also exploit the partylist system to penetrate the House of Representatives, which is the highest government post attainable to them since they never win the confidence of voters.
The Department of Justice is pursuing before the Manila Regional Trial Court a petition to declare Sison’s CPP and the NPA as terrorist and outlawed organizations.
The new law will give more teeth for the courts to prosecute terrorist acts including all armed movements, which is the likely reason for NPA allies to vehemently react to the HSA revision.
Rody had time and again accused the communist movement of insincerity and vowed to launch an unrelenting war against the insurgents, while indicating that it is now more difficult to restart the stalled negotiations during his term as he had lost confidence in Sison and his cabal.
The communist fronts will also be made accountable under the new law.
The government petition stated the CPP-NPA is just buying time by deceiving the government in entering into peace talks, while their main purpose is to mobilize their forces in preparation for a “people’s war” to overthrow the duly-constituted authorities, seizing control of the government and imposing a totalitarian regime.
The law, more importantly will halt the funding that sustains the foes of democracy.