The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on July 3, 2020, said the country has now a powerful law to protect the people against threats by terrorist groups, with the signing into law of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
“We now have a powerful statute that provides law enforcement agencies the legal wherewithal to protect and defend our people,” said AFP spokesperson, Marine Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo in a press statement.
Arevalo said the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 will capacitate government security forces against terrorist groups that cause “inordinate sufferings” to the Filipino people.
“The AFP leadership under General (Filemon) Santos, Jr. thanks the Commander-in-Chief (President Rodrigo Duterte) for his resolve in putting public security and general welfare his primordial consideration in enacting the law that specifically targets terrorists,” he added.
Meanwhile, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said the agency is elated with Duterte’s decision to sign the measure into law.
“With this law, the government is better equipped to ensure the safety of our people against the clutches of terrorists and threats. We will also make sure that there will be no abuses on the part of the government agents,” he added in a media statement.
Año said the government owes this new law to the countless victims of terrorism.
“We thank the President, concerned senators, and congressmen for making this happen,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) allayed fears of abuses from the new law.
“We shall faithfully uphold all institutional mechanisms that provide safeguards to its implementation,” PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said.
Duterte earlier certified as urgent the anti-terror bill to toughen up the government’s anti-terrorism policies.
The new law repeals Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007.
It seeks the detention of suspected terrorists for up to 24 days sans a warrant of arrest. It also allows a 60-day surveillance with an allowable 30-day extension that can be conducted by the police or the military against suspected terrorists.
The law also imposes a 12-year jail term on a person who voluntarily or knowingly joins a terrorist organization. (Priam Nepomuceno with reports from Christopher Lloyd Caliwan, PNA)