Address roots of poverty and alienation to thwart terrorist threats, Hontiveros urges

By Hannah Torregoza

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday said she believes addressing Filipinos concerns on poverty and discrimination will thwart any potential recruitment of terrorist groups in the country.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros (Senator Risa Hontiveros / Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN) Sen. Risa Hontiveros (Senator Risa Hontiveros / Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

Hontiveros said offering a roots-based solution is still the better option than passing an anti-terrorism bill that seeks to stop terrorists from attacking and organizing as groups in the country.

“By addressing the roots of poverty, alienation, discrimination, 'yan talaga ang papatay sa banta ng terorismo at hindi mga bills na sa tingin ng dumaraming Pilipino at ibang mga tao sa ibang mga bansa (that would really kill any threat of terrorism and not bills that many Filipinos think and other people in other countries believe) would only be too open to abuse, thereby unintentionally adding to the ranks of terrorist recruits,” Hontiveros said in an interview over ANC Headstart.

The senator said the government’s main goal should be to make the terrorist groups unappealing to the masses of the citizenry and specific sectors whose support they are seeking.

‘“We have to address the roots of why some terrorist groups are able to organize, and prevent that these become attractive to their potential recruits.

Hontiveros also reiterated that the reason why she voted against the anti-terrorism bill was because the panel, chaired by Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson did not accept some of the most important amendments she suggested.

She warned that the actual implementation of the law could be different from what the bill states when it becomes a law.

“Section 4 (of the proposed law) is clear but in actual implementation, it may be challenged by the implementing law enforcement authorities and even by the Anti-Terrorism Council, which will be composed of the appointees of the President,” she said.

She pointed out this provision expanded the exact definition and terrorism and this could “encompass a broad range of citizens' actions and even expressions that are allowed under a democratic governance.”

She also warned of possible abuses on the part of law enforcement authorities that may be misguided into taking advantage of alleged terror suspects.

In a separate virtual interview, the senator said she could only hope that eventually, if and when a new anti-terror law shall have been enacted, the Supreme Court would be able to weigh in and rule on the most serious issues surrounding the controversial bill, including the concern about possible warrantless arrests.