By: Aaron B. Recuenco
Dr. Russel Salic and other suspected terrorists are exploiting the weak anti-terrorism law in the country to pursue their illegal activities, the military has said.
“The country enjoys so much democratic space that is being exploited by terror groups and also criminal groups unlike in other countries like Singapore, US, Malaysia, and Australia, they have a very strict internal security act,” said Gen. Eduardo Año, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, at the launching of the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Actions in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
According to Año, this is the reason why Salic was able to freely move and operate in the country for several years before he surrendered last April.
Año said the Philippines has its own Human Security Act but it is not so strict to effectively address terror threats compared to other countries.
“We have the Human Security Act but we have been requesting to amend or add some provisions because we believe it’s not enough to address the threats against terrorism,” said Año.
Año said terrorism-related laws of other countries can hold suspicious persons even without filing charges for as long as there are indications that they are connected to terror groups.
Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald M. dela Rosa said they are pushing some laws to protect public safety but they face an uphill battle in their approval.
Dela Rosa said among them is the national identification system that aims to give the government easy access to data on all Filipinos and the law mandating the nationwide registration of SIM or subscriber identification module cards.
He lamented that until now, anybody could easily purchase SIM cards that can be used in bomb attacks and ransom negotiations for kidnapping victims.