âDesignation as terrorist canât be ground for arrestâ
Justice Undersecretary Adrian Ferdinand Sugay said in an interview that the designation of persons as terrorists is only for “going after their assets, seizing assets or freezing assets” by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) for a period of 20 days.
The STAR/Michael Varcas

‘Designation as terrorist can’t be ground for arrest’

Robertzon Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - May 15, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) defended yesterday the decision of the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) to designate at least 29 individuals as “terrorists,” as it clarified that the designation does not warrant an arrest.

Justice Undersecretary Adrian Ferdinand Sugay said in an interview that the designation of persons as terrorists is only for “going after their assets, seizing assets or freezing assets” by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) for a period of 20 days.

Sugay explained that authorities can only arrest those identified as terrorists if they violate the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, or if a complaint was filed against them.

“I suppose Congress deems it necessary to have something like this in place in order to prevent the terrorist activities or the financing of terrorist activities if Congress determines that this is really more important,” he added.

“(The) designation is deemed for purposes of freezing assets. A person may only be arrested for violation of the Anti-Terror Act when he is caught in flagrante delicto, or if a criminal complaint has been filed against him for violations anywhere from Sections 3 and 12 of the Anti-Terror Act,” he said.

He emphasized that “designation alone” is not enough to result in the arrest of the designated person.

At least 29 individuals, including Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison and several members of local extremist groups, were identified by the ATC as “terrorists” in compliance with the Anti-Terror Act of 2020.

Under the law, Sugay said the concerned individuals designated as terrorists may exhaust legal remedies to question their designation, or file the necessary actions against the ATC seeking the setting aside of the designation or the resolution for designation against persons involved.

Building cases

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the designation of Sison and other individuals affiliated with the CPP and local extremist groups as terrorists will serve as basis for the filing of more charges against them.

The head of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, which is a member of the ATC, said that the designation could be used by law enforcement agencies to build up a case and eventually apply an arrest warrant against these individuals.

“We need that designation first, then later on it could be a basis for subsequent filing of warrant against these people so, it’s step by step,” Año told reporters.

He noted that most of the individuals named in the terrorist list already have existing warrants of arrest for previous cases.

Some of the individuals, such as husband and wife Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, jumped bail and eluded authorities after they were released from prison to take part in the now defunct peace talks with the government.

Año noted that the listed individuals can still request for delisting before the ATC or seek other legal remedies such as getting a restraining order from the court.

Aside from the Tiamzon couple, CPP Central Committee members who were designated as terrorists include Julieta Sison, Vicente Ladlad, Rafael Baylosis, Jorge Madlos, Adelberto Silva and Rey Casambre.

Other individuals tagged as terrorists include Abdias Gaudiana, Alan Valera Jazmines, Ma. Concepcion Araneta-Bocala, Dionesio Micabalo, Myrna Sularte, Tirso Lagora Alcantara, Pedro Heyrona Codaste, Ma. Loida Magpatoc, Menandro Villanueva and Tomas Dominado.

Also designated as terrorists were members of the Daulah Islamiyah affiliated Abu Sayaff and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters: Esmael Abdulmalik, Raden Abu, Esmael Abubakar, Muhiddin Animbang, Salahuddin Hassan, Radzmil Jannatul, Majan Sahidjuan, Faharudin Benito Hadji Satar, Mudsrimar Sawadjaan and Almujer Yadah.

‘Let us know’

The Philippine National Police (PNP) yesterday urged people who have information on the whereabouts of the 29 individuals designated as terrorists by the ATC to coordinate with the police.?PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said providing information will definitely help them in their manhunt operations against the personalities on the ATC’s list.?“If ever somebody can locate them or find their whereabouts, let us know so that our operation can be quicker,” he told reporters.?Even before publication of the ATC list, Eleazar said they have been tracking some of these persons since they have existing warrants of arrest.?“Whoever you are, if you have a case, you shoud be found,” Eleazar said.?With the names of the alleged terrorists now in public, the PNP chief said they would be more focused in their efforts. – Romina Cabrera,  Emmanuel Tupas

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