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Palace open to new anti-terror law

August 18, 2019

Malacañang on Saturday backed the proposal of the Department of National Defense (DND) to amend the anti-terror law to allow longer wiretapping operations against enemies of the state.

Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said the proposal would give the government an effective legal framework in securing the country from terrorists and other enemies of the state.

Palace open to new anti-terror law 1

Philippine soldiers walk past destroyed buldings in Bangolo district, after President Rodrigo Duterte declared Marawi City “liberated,” in Marawi on October 17, 2017. Malacañang on Saturday supported DND’s proposal to amend the anti-terror law to allow longer wiretapping operations against enemies of the state. AFP PHOTO

“Palagay ko (I think) the purpose there is para lalo nilang ma-secure ang ating bansa, ang ating seguridad. Kasi mahirap din naman mag-wiretap eh (to secure our country, to enhance security, because it’s really hard to wiretap). It will take time, days bago mo malaman kung anong galaw ng mga (before you will know the plans of the) enemies of the state,” Panelo said.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said a new anti-terrorism law should extend the legally sanctioned wiretapping of suspects to a period of up to 90 days.

He said this period was reasonable for the complicated task.

“I believe we should treat terrorism as a special crime, way above the ordinary crimes that we are dealing with,” Lorenzana said, pushing for more liberal powers for law enforcement agencies.

Republic Act (RA) 9372, or the “Human Security Act of 2007,” provides for an initial period of 30 days, with one extension of up to 30 days.

The Act allows wiretapping, with the consent of the Court of Appeals, only for terror suspects.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday said the law “needs more teeth,” citing “many provisions that need to be amended.”

Panelo, who also serves as the President’s top legal counsel, assured the public that any amendment to RA 9372 would be in accordance with existing laws.

“Dapat hindi mang-abuso. Kailangan meron ding mga, merong mga kondisyon, paano mo ibibigay ang isang karapatan na mag-wiretap (There should be no abuse. There should be conditions how you would give the right to wiretap),” he said.

Meanwhile, Panelo said the Palace would study Interior Secretary Eduardo Año’s proposal to revive the anti-subversion measure that would outlaw the Communist Party of the Philippines.

“Pag-aralan muna natin (We still have to study it). But legitimate ang concern nila Secretary Año na kailangang magkaroon ng ganung batas (the concern of Secretary Año is legitimate, that we need to have such kind of law).

But, as far as the Palace is concerned, that will require study. Serious study,” he said.

The anti-subversion law was repealed in 1992.

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