Reds intensifying disinformation on anti-terror bill â Lacson
Senator Panfilo Lacson, who chairs the committee on national defense and security and is a principal sponsor of the measure, said he stands by its constitutionality and vowed to fight any abuse by law enforcers once President Duterte signs it into law.
Geremy Pintolo, file

Reds intensifying disinformation on anti-terror bill – Lacson

Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - June 15, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Fronts of the New People’s Army (NPA) have intensified their disinformation campaign against the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 even as more communist rebels have surrendered ahead of the expected proscription of the rebel group once the measure is enacted into law, according to Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

Lacson, who chairs the committee on national defense and security and is a principal sponsor of the measure, said he stands by its constitutionality and vowed to fight any abuse by law enforcers once President Duterte signs it into law.

Lacson over the weekend said an Army commander reported that in anticipation of the passage of the bill, NPA guerrillas have started surrendering with 27 rebels laying down their arms in just two days in Quezon, Laguna and Mindoro alone.

“Many more are sending surrender feelers. That is why, he said, their fronts have become busier with their disinformation campaign,” the senator said on Twitter.

He added that there is a pending proscription case against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA at the Manila Regional Trial Court to declare them a terrorist organization.

The CPP is the political wing and the NPA is the armed group under the National Democratic Front, the umbrella organization of all mainstream communist groups and fronts in the country.

The CPP-NPA, along with the Abu Sayyaf, are already designated by the United States Secretary of State as foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs).

A list of FTOs posted on the US State Department website indicates that the CPP-NPA was designated as a FTO as early as Aug. 9, 2002. The Abu Sayyaf, which was declared a terrorist organization by a Basilan court in 2015, was designated as a FTO Oct. 8, 1997.

“As per the anti-terrorism bill, once the United Nations designates the local communist guerrillas as a terrorist organization, the (would-be created) Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) can initiate an administrative action through the Anti-Money Laundering Council to freeze their accounts. These and more could be the reason why there is so much disinformation going on,” Lacson said.

The senator expressed hopes that various political parties opposed to the current administration “will not fall into the scare tactics trap laid out and being peddled by groups who are sympathetic to the CPP-NPA’s cause, which, incidentally, has deteriorated to the level of banditry and extortion activities.”

He said he would not allow anyone to pervert the legislative intent of the measure that he had painstakingly defended on the Senate floor.

“The anti-terrorism bill is the wrong tree to bark at. I vow to join those who are concerned, genuinely or otherwise, about the proposed law’s implementation to be as vigilant in monitoring each and every wrongful implementation by our security forces, even to the point of joining them in street protests,” he said.

Lacson maintained the measure adheres to the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Constitution, and contains more than enough safeguards against abuse, such as 10-year jail terms and perpetual disqualification from public service for law enforcers who arrest suspected terrorists, but fail to immediately inform the ATC, nearest judge and the Commission on Human Rights.

It has more safeguards than the Human Security Act of 2007, which the bill aims to repeal, he said.

The senator recalled that the police officers responsible for the murder of Kian de los Santos were convicted, largely because of the Senate’s inquiry into the case.

Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, who chairs the committee on public order and safety, hit back at those who are calling on Duterte not to sign the law, as he stressed that terrorism “is a very complicated crime against humanity.”

Dela Rosa said law-abiding citizens, who are against terrorism, would “rejoice” if the bill is signed into law.

“But if you’re a terrorist or a supporter of terrorists, be afraid of this law – that’s the simplest summary of this (bill),” Dela Rosa told radio station dzBB.

The neophyte senator asked those blocking the enactment of the measure to be careful of what they wish for, as the country may be subjected to another terror attack and the government would have its hands virtually tied with the lack of such a law. – With Alexis Romero

“You want (the bill) junked? Junk it. When you become victims of terrorists, a bomb explodes, a loved one died, or you yourself, don’t blame the government for not finding ways to stop terrorism,” Dela Rosa said in Filipino.

“You want another Marawi siege? Go ahead. You want another Zamboanga siege? Go ahead. You want bombings left and right? Go ahead,” he added.

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