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ARTICLE FEATURE 

 

On first day of Special Session: House ratifies Anti-terrorism Bill

By: Noel Albano & Diony Tubianosa

 

terrorDetermined to strengthen the country’s capability to meet and defeat any threats from global, regional or local terrorism, the House of Representatives on Monday night overwhelmingly ratified the proposed anti-terror law to be known as the “Human Security Act of 2007.”

“The passage of the anti-terror measure reflects our resolve to fight head-on the threats of terrorism,” said Speaker Jose de Venecia, whose proposed Inter-faith dialogue had been formally adopted by the United Nations last year to isolate religious extremists and resolve through dialogues ethnic and religious conflicts in various regions of the world.

The ratified bill is contained in the Conference Committee Report agreed upon by the conferees from the House and the Senate headed respectively by Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and Rep. Simeon Datumanong.

During plenary discussions, Chairman Datumanong explained that the joint panel, after discussing the measure in full and free conference agreed “to recommend to their respective Houses that Senate Bill No. 2137 be adopted in toto and approved as final version.

De Venecia, noting the arguments presented by Datumanong, said that the proposed anti-terror law “shall not prejudice respect for human rights which shall be absolute and protected at all times.”

The proposed law also mandates that after its publication requirement, “the Act shall take effect two (2) months after the elections are held in May 2007.

Section 3 of the proposed Act states that terrorism is committed when any person “commits an act punishable under any of the following provisions of the Revised Penal Code:

  1. Article 122 (Piracy in general and mutiny in the high seas or in the Philippine waters
  2. Article 134 (Rebellion or Insurrection)
  3. Article 134-a (Coup d’Etat), including acts committed by private persons
  4. Article 248 (Murder)
  5. Article 267 (Kidnapping and serious illegal detention)
  6. Article 324 (Crimes involving Destruction)

Also covered are acts covered under:

  1. PD 1613 (The Law on Arson)
  2. RA 6969 (Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act of 1990)
  3. RA 5207 (Atomic Energy Regulatory and Liability Act of 1968)
  4. RA 6235 (Anti-Hijacking Law)
  5. PD 532 (Anti-piracy and anti-highway robbery Law of 1974
  6. PD 1866, as amended (Decree codifying the laws on illegal and unlawful possession, manufacture, dealing in, acquisition or disposition of firearms, ammunitions or explosives “thereby sowing a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace, in order to coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand.”)

Those found guilty of the above mentioned acts of terrorism “shall suffer the penalty of forty (40) years of imprisonment, without the benefit of parole as provided for under Act No. 4103, otherwise known ass the Indeterminate Sentence Law, as amended”

Likewise, persons who conspire to commit the crime of terrorism shall also suffer the penalty of 40 years imprisonment.

Section 7 provides that surveillance of suspects and interception and recoding of communications by police and law enforcement officers shall only be allowed upon a written order of the Court of Appeals. There are also safeguards against abuses by law enforcers with corresponding penalties for violators of the Act.

The proposed law, however, prohibits surveillance, interception and recording of communications between lawyers and clients, doctors and patients, journalists and their sources and confidential business correspondence.

The proposed Act also creates an Anti-Terrorism Council which shall implement the law and assume the responsibility for the proper and effective implementation of the anti-terrorism policy of the country.

The Council members are:

  1. the Executive Secretary (chairperson)
  2. Secretary of Justice (vice-chairperson)
  3. Secretary of Foreign Affairs
  4. Secretary of National Defense
  5. Secretary of the Interior and Local government
  6. the Secretary of Finance
  7. the National Security Adviser

The National Intelligence Coordinating Agency shall be the Secretariat of the Council.

The proposed law also provides for a vital role of the Commission on Human Rights in consonance with its mandate under the law, and the creation of a Grievance Committee to receive and evaluate complaints against the actuations of the police and law enforcement officials in the implementation of the proposed Act.

A joint Oversight Committee to oversee the implementation of the Act shall be created and composed of five (5) members each from the Senate and the House of Representatives.

From www.congress.gov.ph  19 Feb 2007 ================================================

About the photo: visit tinderstock of deviantart.

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