By Hannah L. Torregoza
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año on Wednesday assured that the anti-terrorism bill has enough safeguards that would ensure that policemen would face penalties for human rights and other possible violations.
Under the anti-terror bill, cops who would be found guilty of committing human rights violations face a 10-year imprisonment, especially if a policeman is found guilty of conducting wire-tapping without any authorization and tortured a person suspected of being a terrorist.
“If may abuses, nandyan sa (panukalang) batas 10 years of imprisonment…’Yung nag-conduct ng wire-tapping with no authorization at kung nagkaroon ng torture o kung ano mang paglabag sa human rights (If there are abuses there is a provision in the proposed law of a 10-year imprisonment…especially for those who conducted wire-tapping with no authorization and if there was torture or any human rights violations),” Año said in the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum which was streamed online.
“Ten (10) years of imprisonment and forever banned from holding any government position,” he said.
For his part, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon assured that the measure has sufficient safeguards against racial profiling.
“There are a lot of laws that prohibit that. Halimbawa, ang mga katulad niyan, ‘Ay taga Mindanao ‘yan, ‘Ay taga Jolo yan,’ medyo delikado ang mga ‘yan dahil alam naman natin sa Jolo mismo na kung saan ay maraming terrorism ang nangyayari ngayon ay madami ding (For example, if a person hails from Mindanao, or from Jolo, and he is considered dangerous because Jolo is known as a place where many terrorism activities happen but there are also) peace-loving citizens (from there),” said Esperon who was also guest at the virtual forum.
“As far as we are concerned, kung ‘di ka naman involved sa ganyang activities, mga armed struggle and joining the NPA (New Peoples’ Army), Abu Sayyaf, the BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters), and those other organizations including the Maute ay ‘di ka kasama dito sa anti-terrorism act (If you’re not involved in such kind of activities, armed struggle or joining the NPA, Abu Sayyaf, the BIFF, and those other organizations including Maute, then you are not covered by the Anti-Terrorism Act),” Esperon added.
Esperon also said that when it comes to red-tagging, the left-leaning groups such as Bayan, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Migrante, and Kilusang Mayo Uno are the ones indicating their support for the illegal activities of communist rebels.
“Ang red-tagging hindi nanggagaling sa amin kung hindi galing na rin sa aksyon ng mga organisasyon nila at mga units nila, (Red-tagging did not come from us, but from the actions of these organizations and their units),” he explained.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, sponsor and one of the authors of the measure in the Senate, reiterated his call for critics of the anti-terror bill to first read the final version of the measure before criticizing it.
“Ang panawagan ko sa hindi pa nakakabasa ng final version, ang enrolled bill. Pakibasa natin sa halip na magkumento base lang sa pakikinig ng mga nagki-criticize at nagkukumento na maari ring hindi nakabasa (I call on those who haven’t read the final version, the enrolled bill: please read it instead of commenting based on what you just heard from those criticizing and commenting on the measure),” Lacson said.
Lacson said a copy of the bill is already available at the Senate website and in his own personal website.
“Kung gusto nyo mabasa ang kopya ng enrolled bill, para maliwanagan natin at hindi tayo mapapadala sa propaganda na naghahasik ng disinformation campaign laban dito (Please read the copy of the enrolled bill so you can be enlightened and you won’t be carried away by the massive disinformation campaign against this measure),” the senator said.