MANILA, Philippines – The Aquino administration wants Congress to amend the Human Security Act of 2007 to further strengthen government efforts in fighting and defeating terrorism.
Speaking to participants of the 7th ASEAN-Japan Counter-Terrorism Dialogue in Cebu City on Wednesday, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said a proposed bill seeking changes to the anti-terror law is one of the key measures the Executive Branch has asked lawmakers to prioritize, as part of its global commitment to counter terrorism.
"The goal of these amendments is to strengthen the law so that it can be used as a tool by law enforcement agencies to thwart terrorism," the Executive Secretary said.
While the capability of terror organizations has waned and the number of militants has decreased, the world must keep its vigilance because the threats of terrorism remain and are very real, Ochoa said.
As part of the Administration's ongoing contribution to the global response to these threats, the Executive Secretary told participants that President Benigno S. Aquino III signed last week two laws--An Act to Further Strengthen the Anti-Money Law and the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012-- to boost domestic capability in identifying and preventing financial transactions related to illegal activities and those that undermine global security.
To complement these initiatives, he said, the government has put in place a three-pronged strategy to combat terrorism within Philippine borders which is aligned with the frameworks adopted in other countries. These steps are:
• Effective law enforcement by strengthening the regulatory regimes for firearms and explosives and financing terrorism, and the arrest and neutralization of the human tools or perpetrators behind terrorist acts;
• Stronger institutional mechanisms and enhanced capabilities of law enforcement agencies and security agencies, and active participation in international cooperation against terrorism; and
• De-radicalization or counter-radicalization of the intent to commit terror acts by addressing poverty and poor education, which are considered roots of the problem.
"In these initiatives, you are guaranteed of the support of our President who recognizes the importance of addressing the threat of terrorism and is aware that a holistic approach to the problem will produce positive results," Ochoa said.
At the same time, the Executive Secretary lauded Japan and ASEAN member-states for taking the lead in organizing the dialogue on counter-terrorism to put forward the implementation of joint projects in transport security, border control and immigration, maritime security, public involvement in countering terrorism, and capacity building on legal affairs.
"Without a doubt, all of the nation-states here possess the political will to defeat terrorism; all of us want to secure borders and ensure the safety of our people," Ochoa said.
"What is necessary is improved counter-terrorism capacity, and this is where efforts like this dialogue is crucial."