By Noreen Jazul
Former Senator Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV on Monday suggested policy proposals dealing with terrorism which the government could implement without the need for the Anti-Terrorism bill (ATB).
On Twitter, Trillanes made five proposals which include the implementation of a national ID system.
“A database of the biometric features of all citizens would be an effective tool to deter local terrorism and also help solve crimes,” Trillanes said, noting that while the creation of a national ID system has been passed into law in 2018, it has yet to be implemented.
Trillanes said another move the government could do is to increase the intelligence funds of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for its operations.
“All effective counterterrorism programs are contingent on effective and timely intel operations. Even if you have the strictest law on anti-terrorism, if you don’t know who and where they are, how could you possibly arrest them?” the former senator said.
The government should also share intelligence with allies such as the United States, European Union, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and Australia, according to Trillanes, noting that they have “extensive capabilities to track down foreign terrorists.”
Trillanes also suggested that the Visiting Forces Agreement and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which were both abrogated, be brought back.
“The past several years, the AFP has benefited greatly from the ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) operations of the US armed forces. This led to the containment of the Abu Sayyaf and Maute groups,” he said.
Trillanes said there should also be “strict border controls” in the country’s airports and seaports, citing the “pastillas” scheme as an example of “how loose” the country’s borders are.
“Criminals and terrorists can smoothly go through immigration checks by just paying BI officials. Again, even if you have the strictest law against terrorism, it won’t matter if the law enforcers themselves are corrupt,” Trillanes said.
The Anti-Terror bill, which is now awaiting President Duterte’s signature, has been opposed by several public figures and groups.