Leyte 4th district Representative Lucy Torres-Gomez explained why the anti-terror bill is necessary for the country.
On a lengthy, social media post, Gomez mentioned what happened at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Jolo, Mindanao last year where 140 people were victimized by the terrorists.
According to her, the unfortunate incident might not happen if there’s a strong anti-terrorism law during that time.
“It wasn’t that there was no intelligence gathered on the arrival of these Indonesian terrorists in Jolo, as a matter of fact, they were red-flagged the moment they reached immigration. And the sad truth is, that bombing could have been prevented if only the Human Security Act (HSA) of 2007 provided for the arrest of foreign nationals suspected of terrorism,” Gomez said.
“It would be wise to review the Human Security Act of 2007 to understand its significant shortcomings, such that a new law to repeal it was deemed necessary. The most glaring is that the HSA is not equipped to help us PREVENT a terrorist act from being undertaken. After 13 years in effect, only one person actually got convicted, in connection to the Marawi Siege. The three co-conspirators were acquitted. Most cases involving terrorists were tried using the Revised Penal Code, a law that is predisposed to penalize acts already committed. Hence, we have no legal arsenal to stop terrorist plotters before they inflict widespread destruction. Furthermore, the HSA has no provision intended for foreign terrorists,” she added.
Gomez described that the current Human Security Act of 2007 gives suspected terrorist “free pass” in the country.
She also said that the weak laws in the country made the Philippines a recruitment haven for the members of ISIS.
“The terrorists are literally having “more fun in the Philippines,” because our laws allow it so. This makes us a very conducive venue to undertake, plan, and prepare for terrorist activities,” the lawmaker stated.
Torres-Gomez then urged the people to read the controversial bill instead of relying to the opinions of other people.
“This past week, we have seen strong opposition against HB 6875 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. I urge you all to read the bill first-hand and not rely on second-hand opinions of others, who may have been influenced by those who twisted the interpretation of actual sections of the bill to suit their accusations. In the slides that follow you will read excerpts from the actual bill. There are many questions, but I will focus on two that seem to disturb many, from their perspectives,” she said.
She then proceeded on explaining why the HB 6875 has enough safeguards to prevent anyone to misuse it.
The lawmaker insisted that attending a rally to criticize the government doesn’t mean that law enforcers allowed to put you in their custody.
However, she said that if the rally was encouraging people to do harm to others, damage any properties, or possess any illegal weapons, the authorities were allowed to capture them.
Torres-Gomez also explained the role of the Anti Terrorism Council saying that they’re tasked to “implement the Anti-Terrorism Act by creating programs, investigating, and coordinating the prevention and fight against terrorism. Its most significant powers are (a) designation of a person or organization as a suspected terrorist, and (b) authorizing warrantless arrst for 14-24 days, upon finding of “probable cause” of terrorist activities defined in this Act,”
“Without these provisions, we have no way of apprehending terrorists BEFORE the attacks actually happen. Please take note, probable cause has to be established. It is explicitly stated,” she stated.
Torres also mentioned that while the current law also allowed unwarranted arrests to suspected terrorists, the authorities could only hold them for three days which according to lawmaker was not enough to gather evidence against the suspects.
“For those with serious reservations, especially in the determination of “probable cause,” we can address the Anti-Terrorism Council and the Department of Justice to establish “safeguards” against wrongful arrest and designation. These bodies can put in place clear-cut, evidence-based procedures in determining “probable cause” in the bill’s Implementing Rules and Regulations, to be crafted 90 days after the bill’s approval,” she said.
She also believes that terrorist doesn’t care if there’s a COVID-19 in the country right now, especially that the country was very vulnerable right now because of the pandemic.
“It is dishonest and a grave injustice to dilute its strength and purpose by putting activists, critics, and bashers in the same category as terrorists. This bill was made to stop terrorists, not to make life inconvenient and uncomfortable for activists and those who voice out dissent,” Torres said.
“Let us not reduce the argument as a simple choice between human rights in one corner, and terrorism in the other. Because terrorists have no regard for human life or rights, their intent, and actions so brutal and evil they can never even be mistaken as activists,” she added.
The post of Torres reached 36,000 shares as of writing and received praise from the netizens for her very clear explanation.