Longer warrantless detention for terror suspects sought

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 01 2018 05:34 PM

MANILA - Several senators on Monday pushed for the extension of the period allowed by law to detain suspected terrorists without warrants to 30 days from the current 3 days. 

Senator Panfilo Lacson, chair of the committee on public order and dangerous drugs, said surveillance activities for suspects slapped with terrorism charges should be extended to 90 days.

"As experienced by the intelligence community, the activities of terrorist groups have no schedule... They will do it whenever they decide to do it.. We need to build up this information," he said. 

"A longer period of surveillance we will be able to build up international connection... Even 90 days may not be efficient.. this group do not talk to each other everyday," he added.

Lacson said the country's anti-terror law, the Human Security Act of 2007, is weak and should be amended. He pointed out that not one person nor organization has ever been prosecuted under the law.

He added, government security agencies today hesitate to file terrorism-related cases because the penalty for failing to convict a suspect is around P500,000.

Commission of Human Rights lawyer Jomaher Asalan expressed apprehension in extending the period of detention without any judicial warrant of arrest.

But when asked if he thinks the current period allowed would be enough to extract information from a terror suspect, Asalan said: "I believe that is not sufficient."

Security officials who attended the hearing agreed with Lacson's points and expressed support for the proposed amendment to the Human Security Act. 

Senators Gringo Honasan and Vicente Sotto III, meanwhile, agreed to fast-track the approval of the bill and also encourage their House counterparts to prioritize the passage of the measure.