Expert hopes new anti-terror law would reduce airstrikes
A counter-terrorism expert expressed hope that with the newly-approved anti-terrorism law in the Philippines the military would lessen the conduct of airstrikes.
"I hope that this law makes it possible to rely more on intelligence and less on air strikes and active measures by the armed forces that can serve deepen this narratives in the Muslims south about abuse of security forces," Sidney Jones, director of Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) said during the online forum with the Foreign Correspondent Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) on Friday.
"I actually believe very deeply that air strikes only end up further alienating a civilian population if they result in either... or wide spread displacement," she said.
"Therefore, the emphasis should be not on using air strike as a way to eradicate the enemy but trying to as much as possible use intelligence to arrest people alive so that among other things you can get additional information and as I say you open the possibility for some kind of rehabilitation," she added.
However, Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command Chief, emphasized that the military always prioritized public safety in all of its operations.
"In everything we do we always do it in a very deliberate manner we always employ the reasonable amount of force," Sobejana said.
"We have in our arsenal the capabilities so we make use of them vis-a-vis the amount of target that we want to destroy, and one of our consideration is the safety and security of the people nearby. We don’t want collateral damage so the safety of the public is the number one concerns of ours in doing our job," he added.
Jones also emphasized the importance of an anti-terrorism law as she noted that the Philippines remains to be a dangerous terrorist center in the region.
"The Philippines remains the regional hotspot it continues to be more dangerous terrorist center than anywhere else in the region and that is the context on the development of new law, flawed as it is," she said.
"I think the first thing to say there isn’t any single terror law anywhere in the world that been completely satisfactory and there isn’t anyone who made a perfect balance between human rights protections and... measures. I think this law replaces one of the worst anti-terror law that was ever passed because it had so many safeguards that was never used or almost never used and it was particularly that... liability provision," Jones said
" I think that there are couple of things that jump out of me. One is that there is basically no room for rehabilitation. Anybody who gets arrested for terrorism gets put away virtually for life and it doesn’t seem to be particularly easy to move out of that very draconian regime," said Jones.
So if I would the Supreme Court reviewing this law I would try to see whether there were some way in amending the wording of this law so that it become more possible to think about rehabilitation rather than to locking people up for life…," she added. Robina Asido/DMS