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7月7日のまにら新聞から

Bangsamoro gov't can't be represented in ATC but can be consulted, says Palace

[ 730 words|2020.7.7|英字 ]

Malacañang said on Monday that the Bangsamoro government could not have a representative at the Anti-Terrorism Council as the law specifically provides who are its members.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the statement after Bangsamoro government Chief Minister Ahod "Al Haj Murad" Ebrahim urged President Rodrigo Duterte that they be allowed to have a representation at the ATC following the approval of the Republic Act No. 11479, or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

"We'll they (Bangsamoro government) cannot be included...the (Anti-)Terror Council itself," he said.

Section 45 of the new law provides that the ATC is chaired by the Executive Secretary, with the National Security Adviser as vice chairperson; and secretaries of Foreign Affairs, National Defense, Interior and Local Government, Finance, Justice, and Information and Communications Technology, and executive director of the Anti-Money Laundering Council Secretariat as members.

Roque, however, assured that the ATC would coordinate with various agencies, including the Bangsamoro government.

"They (Bangsamoro government) are included in the agencies, it's stated in the law that there will be coordination when it comes to the implementation of the law. So, it's in the provision of the law, but not full membership into the Anti-Terrorism Council. But they are one of the agencies that the Anti-Terrorism Council is duty bound to consult with," he explained.

The Bangsamoro Transition Authority earlier raised opposition over the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

But with Duterte's decision to sign the bill into law, Ebrahim said they respect it.

Ebrahim, leader of the then rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front, expressed trust to Duterte that he would ensure that concerns and apprehension of the Bangsamoro people on some provisions of the law would not happen.

Roque assured Filipino Muslims that the anti-terror law is not a "class legislation" against them.

He noted that Duterte has also Muslim blood as his grandmother is a Tausug.

"With this law, the entire BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) will be as peaceful and progressive as Tawi-Tawi," he said.

There are terrorist groups lurking in some parts of BARMM, such as the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu, the Maute Group in Lanao del Sur, inclduing Marawi City, and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Maguindanao and nearby areas, among others.

Asked to illustrate on the kinds of speeches which could be classified as inciting to terrorism as provided in the new law, Roque cited that if a leader of a known terrorist group, like the Abu Sayyaf, called its members and followers to behead Christians, it could be classified as inciting to terrorism.

But if the one who made such call has no authority or has no involvement in any terrorist group, there is no "clear and present danger that the government needs to prevent."

"So, the law is written in the context of our existing jurisprudence saying that free speech can only be curtailed if there is clear and present danger and although the law provides for penalties for speech that tend to incite towards the acts of terrorism, it is subject to clear and present danger rule," he explained.

Roque added that this was the reason why the complaint against an individual who posted on the social media about call to kill Duterte recently was dismissed.

"There was no clear and present danger because it depends on the capability of the speaker if he is capable to do what he said," he said.

Meanwhile, Roque reiterated it would be up to the Supreme Court to decide on the petitions filed by various groups questioning the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

"Let us allow the process to proceed at the Supreme Court," he said, but added that as a general rule, there is "a heavy presumption of constitutionality" on every law passed by Congress.

As to the concern of Vice President Leni Robredo that the new law has no enough safeguards against abuses by the authorities, Roque said there are other remedies which could be used by any individual, such as the petition for the writ of habeas corpus or writ of amparo.

"So, we have enough remedies that are there already despite having a new law. All the writs issued by the Supreme Court and those in the Constitution could still be used," said Roque, who is also a lawyer.

Various groups have filed petitions before the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the Anti-Terrorism Act. Celerina Monte/DMS