NorCot police joins bandwagon on argument for anti-terror law

By Ali G. Macabalang

Uniformed police officers and civilians gathered at a Jan. 1 “peace rally” in Barangay Amas, Kidapawan City in support of state lawyers set to orally argue the legality of the Anti-Terror Law or R.A. 11479 before the Supreme Court the next day. (Supplied photo)

KIDAPAWAN CITY

The provincial police force of North Cotabato has joined the bandwagon of support for state’s oral argument before the Supreme Court on the implementation of R.A. 11479 or the Anti-Terror Law (ATL), joining hands with organized constituent-youths in fighting terrorism and illegal drugs menace as well.

Law enforcers including municipal and city police chiefs and leaders of the Kabataan Kontra Druga at Terrorismo (KKDT) converged in Barangay Amas here, and tackled ways and means to ensure cohesive strides against organized crimes, notably illegal drugs and terrorism, Provincial Police Director Col. Henry Villar said in a statement.

Col. Villar said his Police Community Affairs Development Unit lectured on the effects of illegal drugs and the threats of terrorism, while Sarah Joy Simblante – youth representative to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan – explained ways of harnessing organized youths like the KKDT in cohesive campaigns by police and military establishments.  

Invited lecturers also discussed Cotabato Governor Nancy Catamco’s CARE (Coronavirus, Awareness, Response and Empowerment) program meant for the youth to be knowledgeable in the advent of the pandemic and educate their parents at home, said Deputy Provincial Police Director Col. Rodolfo Inoy Jr. and City Director Ramel Hojilla.

The police-sponsored event here jived with the rally on Feb. 1 in Manila of the League of Parents of the Philippines, Liga Independencia Pilipinas, Sulong Maralita, Youth for Peace and Development, Hands-Off Our Children, and Yakap ng mga Magulang that are rallying state lawyers in justifying the legality of ATL.

Warrantless arrests

The ATL, which repealed R.A. 9372 (Human Security Act of 2007), seeks the detention of suspected terrorists for up to 24 days with no warrant of arrest, and allows the police or the military to conduct 60-day surveillance with 30-day extension on suspected terrorists. The law’s Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), drafted by the Department of Justice, were approved by the Anti-Terrorism Council last October.

It also imposes a 12-year jail term on a person who voluntarily or knowingly joins a terrorist organization.

Solicitor General Jose Calida reportedly said earlier the ATL was already in effect even if the IRR was not yet crafted and approved. Calida, citing precedent cases previously decided on by the Supreme Court, said laws are not contingent on the implementing rules.

Opposing petitions

At least 37 petitions have been filed before the High Tribunal by opposition groups and individuals questioning the validity of the law.

At the Feb. 2 state oral arguments’ hearing, Zambales-based Aeta tribesmen Japer Gurung and Junior Ramos filed a pleading to the Supreme Court asking to join the 37 petitions seeking to void the law.

Gurung and Ramos narrated to the High Tribunal their ordeal – allegedly 6 days of brutal and inhumane torture in the hands of the military to admit membership with the New People’s Army, a published report said.

They were accused of firing at reconnaissance soldiers of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division on August 21, 2020, resulting in the death of Sgt. Rudil Dilao. They were charged and jailed under Section 4(a) of the ATL or “acts intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to any person, or endangers a person’s life,” reports said.

But Gurung and Ramos, a Rappler report said, argued that “they were evacuating their homes to avoid being caught in crossfire when they were arrested by the military” at Sitio Lumibao, Barangay Buhawen, San Marcelino, Zambales. They said the military trespassed on their ancestral land, the news entity added.

The duo “were held for six days, during which they were interrogated and repeatedly mauled while being forced to admit membership with the New People’s Army (NPA),” said the petition, signed by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), who also represents other groups of petitioners, the online report said.

It added that the petition accused the soldiers of planting explosives, ammunition, and subversive documents.

Petitioners questioning the ATL legality are led by former Solicitor General Jose Anselmo Cadiz. AGM

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