Fear from anti-terror law due to law enforcers' track record: analyst

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 03 2021 02:03 PM

Fear from anti-terror law due to law enforcers' track record: analyst 1
Different groups held a protest outside the Supreme Court along Padre Faura in Manila, Feb. 2, 2021 hours before the oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Anti-Terror Act. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Law enforcers must prove themselves that the implementation of the new counterterrorism law will remain conscious in protecting human rights, a security analyst said Wednesday.

"I think the main challenge here is the track rating of our law enforcers. Some people, they don't trust our law enforcers about their credibility in implementing this kind of law," Professor Rommel Banlaoi, director of the Center for Intelligence and National Security Studies of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, told ANC.

"I think the ball is now in the court of the law enforcement authorities to prove themselves that the implementation of the anti-terrorism law will remain conscious of the need to protect the rights of the people that this law intends to protect."

He made the remark as the Supreme Court on Tuesday began hearing oral arguments on petitions challenging the validity of the contentious Anti-Terrorism Act.

Despite such concerns, Banlaoi remains in favor of the anti-terror law "as the threat of terrorism in the Philippines has evolved into a more brutal and draconian form."

"We have to understand that the main intention of this law is not only to put to jail terrorist organizations but also to prevent individuals and organizations from committing actual acts of terrorism and put to justice all personalities and organizations supporting, financing, training, and even endorsing and glorifying acts of terrorism," he said.

As among those consulted when the measure was being crafted, Banlaoi stressed it was a "misunderstanding" that the law would be used against legitimate dissent.

"The anti-terrorism law is promoting and supporting activism, as long as this kind of activism will remain to be peaceful and lawful," he said.

"Of course, the anti-terrorism law will run after activists supporting armed struggle, propagating violence and even endorsing acts of violence."

The counter-terror law was signed in July 2020 despite heavy opposition over fears it could be used to crack down on dissent.

Among the law's contentious provisions includes warrantless arrest, prolonged detention without charges and the designation of any person or group as terrorists.

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