By Genalyn Kabiling
The proposed longer period for wiretapping and detention of terror suspects would give the government ample time to build strong cases against them, according to a Palace official.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo has affirmed that the Palace supports the Department of National Defense’s (DND) proposals to strengthen measures to bring suspected terrorists to justice.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier proposed that suspected terrorists be detained under a warrantless arrest up to 60 days for case buildup, instead of the current three days under the Human Security Act of 2007. Another proposed amendment is to extend the initial wiretapping period from 30 days to 90 days.
“It takes time to build a case against a particular individual,” Panelo said in a television interview, in explaining the Palace support for such anti-terror measures.
“Kapag hindi mo pa nakukuha iyong mga ebidensiya mo, ire-release mo iyan, pag ni-release no iyan di back to their work [If you are not yet able to gather evidence and release the suspect, they will just go back to their work],” he added.
On prolonging the wiretapping period, Panelo said the current 30-day wiretapping period is not enough to develop cases against suspects. He said they want the wiretapping period to be longer than a month “because it’s difficult when you wiretap tapos you want to prosecute.”
“Kailangan may ebidensiya eh. It takes time eh. Kung thirty days lang, kulang [You need evidence and it takes time. Thirty days are not enough],” he said.
At present, Republic Act No. 9372 or the Human Security Act allows wiretapping of suspected terrorists for 30 days and only with the consent of the Court of Appeals.
Asked about the need to amend the Human Security Act, Panelo argued that the government was trying to put an end to the recruitment of communist rebels. He noted parents have complained about their missing children who ended up joining the communist rebellion.
“Kasi ang kaliwa, iyong left, nagkaroon sila ng massive recruitment eh, marami silang nakuhang mga estudyante [Because the left is engaged in massive recruitment of students. We have to make a stop to that],” he said.
When asked if such proposed amendments to the anti-terror law are considered priority for the President, he said Duterte did not mention anything about making it a priority “but I guess the lawmakers know what they are going to do with that given the situation.”