By Jeffrey Damicog
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday defended a provision of the Anti-Terrorism Bill which will allow suspected terrorists who have been apprehended without arrest warrants to be detained for 14 days.
“We want a longer detention period so that we can hold the suspect if he is really a terrorist. He cannot commit a terror act,” Lorenzana said during an interview over CNN Philippines.
He said the detention period of 36 hours for those who are apprehended without arrest warrants under existing laws is not enough.
Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) states that penalties will be imposed to “the public officer or employee who shall detain any person for some legal ground and shall fail to deliver such person to the proper judicial authorities within the period of; twelve (12) hours, for crimes or offenses punishable by light penalties, or their equivalent; eighteen (18) hours, for crimes or offenses punishable by correctional penalties, or their equivalent; and thirty-six (36) hours, for crimes or offenses punishable by afflictive or capital penalties, or their equivalent.”
“I think it is a joke actually to detain people for 36 hours,” Lorenzana said.
“We do not have time to substantiate your charges. You cannot research. You cannot make any allegations. So, 36 hours are too short,” he said.
In response to criticisms that the bill is being prioritized instead of measures to combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Lorenzana said that it is “high time it is approved and passed into law.”
“We need it now because the threat that the terrorists will take advantage of the pandemic is very great,” he pointed out.
He allayed the public’s fears of possible abuses that will be committed by law enforcers once the bill becomes a law.
“There is enough safeguards to the liberties of our people that they should not be unduly subjected to this kind of threats they are alleging,” he said
“Also, the law enforcement agency. There are enough stringent sanctions to anybody who will commit abuses in implementing this law,” Lorenzana added.
“The people should not worry about this,” he said.