MANILA - Weak anti-terror laws saddle the Philippines, the police and military admitted Monday, after a suspected extremist claimed that the country is "a breeding ground for terrorists."
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año said the Human Security Act does not allow the arrest of terror suspects based on mere suspicion and intelligence reports.
"In other countries like Singapore, Malaysia, US Australia, they have a very strict Internal Security Act. Pwede nilang i-arrest ang isang tao by mere suspicions based on information, then a special court will hear the case," Año said at a Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Council Meeting.
"They do not even have to file charges immediately. For up to 2 years, they can actually detain the person until they determine whether that person is part of a terror group."
The AFP, he said, has pushed for an amendment of the Human Security Act.
The head of the Philippine National Police meanwhile said the lack of a national ID system has allowed terrorists to operate in the country.
"Bakit pinili nila dito? Mas maluwag silang mag-operate. Alam naman natin na national ID system pa lang, which is a very crucial issue to address terrorism, hindi makapasa-pasa sa ating legislature," PNP chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa said in the same meeting.
"We have been clamoring for that, but it is a very uphill battle."
The Philippines has been struggling for decades with armed insurgencies in the restive south.
Russell Salic, a Filipino doctor charged with a terror plot targeting New York, has dubbed his country as "a breeding ground for terrorists," the US Justice Department said Saturday.
Salic reportedly said he could transfer money from the Philippines to other terror suspects without attracting attention. With Henry Atuelan, DZMM