During a Senate hearing on proposed amendments to the Human Security Act of 2007, DILG officer-in-charge Eduardo Año and Gen. Carlito Galvez, AFP chief of staff, proposed the detention period of suspected terrorists be extended to 30 days from three days.
Philstar.com/Roel Pareño, File
Security officials want longer detention, surveillance periods for suspected terrorists
(Philstar.com) - October 1, 2018 - 3:38pm

MANILA, Philippines — Top security officials on Monday said the detention and surveillance period of suspected terrorists should be extended to help strengthen the country’s anti-terrorism law.

During a Senate hearing on proposed amendments to the Human Security Act of 2007, Gen.Carlito Galvez, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff, lamented that the 11-year-old measure “does not really help security elements do their job.”

“I’ll cite an example of Isulan incident when we captured already the supposed bomber. But because of the very permissive law, the bombers were able to be released from detention,” Galvez said.

AFP chief wants 30-day period for warantless arrests

He proposed the detention period of suspected terrorists be extended to 30 days from three days.

Under the HSA, security personnel must bring a suspect before a court "within a period of three days counted from the moment the said charged or suspected person has been apprehended or arrested, detained, and taken into custody." Failure to do so is penalized with ten to 12 years in prison.

“Normally, [terror suspects] will break in information maybe [by] second or third week,” the AFP chief said, adding the 30-day period can also help security forces disrupt and eliminate the threat.

“Thirty days is actually enough time for the security sector to conduct all extensive investigation to follow up operations and be able to do counteractions,” Interior and Local Government officer-in-charge Eduardo Año, a former military chief, also said.

National Intelligence Coordinating Agency Director General Alex Monteagudo even suggested to extend the proposed 30-day detention period to determine the domestic or foreign links of the suspected terrorists.

Monteagudo also pushed to extend the period of surveillance to 90 days from 30 days.

“A longer period of surveillance will allow us to identify the network of the organization, including their international connection. Thirty days is short; 90 days is not even sufficient if we’re working with organizations with both local and international connection,” he said.

‘Useless piece of legislation’

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, the author of Senate Bill 1956, which seeks to amend provisions of Human Security Act of 2007, called the legislation a “dead-letter law.”

“Since the 9/11 terror attack against the US, Australia has already legislated 61 new anti-terror measures. As lawmakers, we cannot in good conscience remain silent and do nothing about our primary law against terrorism, becoming nothing more than a useless piece of legislation,” Lacson said in his opening statement.

While acknowledging that an anti-terror law cannot entirely solve the problem of terrorism, he stressed that the government and law enforcers need a tool in dealing with the threats of terrorism.

“We must act now. Our inaction will make us equally accountable for every death, injury and damage terrorists inflict on our country,” he said.

The International Commission of Jurists earlier warned that the proposed amendments to the Human Security Act of 2007 could give the government and law enforcers to commit human rights violations.

Last June, human rights group Karapatan also said that the amendments to the anti-terror law “will worsen the impact of the Human Security Act on people’s rights.” — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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