MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) had asked the Basilan Regional Trial Court (RTC) to declare the Abu Sayyaf an outlaw organization so that the government could get assistance from foreign law enforcement agencies to cut off international funding for the terrorist gang.
The DOJ has filed at the Basilan RTC last Thursday a first ever proscription case under the Human Security Act of 2007 against the Abu Sayyaf to get a court order to outlaw the group.
“Proscription is a legal process that would declare a group of persons to be terrorists by an RTC after due notice and hearing,” said Justice Secretary Leila de Lima in a statement.
Law enforcers could immediately arrest Abu Sayyaf members once the group is outlawed by the court.
The DOJ said under Section 17 of Republic Act No. 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007, the justice department is tasked with prosecuting and proscribing any organization, association or group of persons organized for the purpose of engaging in terrorism or which actually commits acts of terrorism to create fear and panic.
“The government has enough evidence to prove that the Abu Sayyaf group is a terrorist organization and uses violence to terrorize populations. This group is responsible for atrocities including kidnappings and killings. There is fear, a climate of fear, where this group operates,” De Lima added.
She said the operations, intelligence and legal units from the different agencies worked together to establish the Abu Sayyaf’s pattern of kidnapping, ambushing, pillage in exchange for ransom, money or any benefit that may be expedient to them.
The anti-terrorism law was passed amidst a long and spirited debate on the need to protect the State, innocent targets and individual human rights.
“The government, especially the Department of Justice, shall ensure that human rights are respected at all times,” said De Lima.
The military said that law enforcement agencies are monitoring some groups or organizations that might be providing funds and logistic support to Islamic extremist groups, including the Abu Sayyaf, in the country since 2007.
The military has declined to disclose details about the organizations being monitored or who are running them or whether they are foreign or local organizations.
Government law enforcers could destroy the Abu Sayyaf once the proscription is approved, since it could ask for the help of international law enforcement organizations through the sharing of intelligence to cut financial support from international donors to the terrorist group.