Military officials want Congress to amend the Human Security Act to allow them to detain suspected terrorists for 30 days even without a warrant.
At a hearing of the Senate public order committee chaired by Senator Panfilo Lacson, Armed Forces chief General Carlito Galvez Jr. cited the need to extend the three days detention allowed under the current law to 30 days.
“We see that if we will be able to capture the bomber, in a week, we won’t get anything. Normally, based on our experience, the suspect [will] break...in two to three weeks,” Galvez said.
“In the case of the Isulan [bombings over the last two months], we already captured the supposed bomber but because of very permissive law, the bomber [was] released from detention.”
An extension of the detention period to 30 days would be a preemptive measure, Galvez said, because terrorists make subsequent attacks.
“The 30 days can also serve as a disruptive period for the terrorists, give us time to gather counterintelligence, [and] determine if the terrorist is a lone wolf or [part of] a pack of wolves,” he said.
Department of the Interior and Local Government OIC Eduardo Año, a former military chief, said 30 days will be enough for the security forces to conduct a 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,” Año said.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana cited the need for stringent measures such as those adopted by Australia, and said this was an alternative to using martial law to address terrorism.
“Let us not use martial law but give more teeth to our security agencies,” he said.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon also noted that by “mere suspicion” in Australia, suspects could be detained for as long as seven days or more.
“In our country… [we can] only detain suspects [for] three days,” he said.
“And I don’t know why instead of giving law enforcers more leeway or capabilities… The Security Act could penalize us for mistakes,” he said, referring to a provision in the law that penalizes law enforcement agencies P500,000 a day in damages for the false prosecution of individuals for terrorism.
Senate President Vicente Sotto said there was no need for such a provision, saying that those who are falsely prosecuted and wrongfully detained can sue the government under existing laws.
“Why do we need this provision? They can go after the government. Why are we scaring our enforcers?” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Lacson, meanwhile, proposed that the definition of a terrorist be modified because a terrorist does not necessarily coerce the government to give in to his or her demands as provided for under 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,” Lacson said, noting that the existing definition is too limiting.
In South Cotabato, police and military agents arrested three suspected members of the Islamic State-inspired Ansar Kalifa Philippines Monday morning.
Authorities are also tracking down two other members of the terrorists AKP group facing murder charges.
The suspects were identified as Akmad Bulacon, his sons Muktar Bulacon and Zandro Bulacon.
Recovered from them was a backpack containing two emblems with ISIS markings, two blasting caps, ammonium nitrate, a bandolier with several M16 bullets, a fragmentation grenade, three rifle grenades, and two motorcycles.
The seized motorcycles were believed used in the killing of P01 Achiles Tablazon on Sept. 15, 2015. With Francisco Tuyay
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