Blogger Raissa Robles actually got the clarification she needed on Section 25 of what is now the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 – but chose to ignore it.
A statement by the staff of Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday said Robles got in touch with Senate President Vicente Sotto III via text, regarding that portion of the measure.
In a blog post last weekend, Robles claimed Lacson “hastily inserted” a “dangerous” Section 25 allowing officials to “‘designate anyone a terrorist.'” Lacson denied this, calling the allegation “malicious and untrue, to say the least.”
Robles, in her text message to Sotto, said she was “trying to trace” who inserted some paragraphs in Section 25 of the enrolled bill, as they “were not present in the Second Reading version of the bill which is the Senate defense committee report.”
She added that the paragraphs “only appeared in the Third Reading version that was approved in final reading,” and asked, “Is it correct for me then to assume that Senate (sic) Lacson had inserted them himself?”
Sotto informed Robles that Section 25 was part of a substitute bill that was approved during the period of amendments.
“Hindi insertion yung Section 25 because it’s part of the substitute bill,” the Senate President told Robles in his reply to her query.
In her own blog, Robles said Sotto told her that “The provision you are concerned with was a suggestion of the AMLC (Anti-Money Laundering Council) for the Philippines to be compliant with FATF (Financial Action Task Force) requirements for us to be removed from their gray list.”
“Yet, despite the clarification from the Senate President that Section 25 is part of a substitute bill approved during the period of amendments, Robles went ahead with her post – not even bothering to mention the Senate President’s reply to her,” the statement by Lacson’s staff said.
“Never let the facts get in the way of a malicious story,” Lacson’s staff added in their statement, referring to Robles’ post last weekend.
“As Senator Lacson’s staff, we are calling out Raissa Robles’ malicious claims in her blog – and giving the real score. Ito ang totoo,” they added.
Contrary to Robles’ claims that it is dangerous, Section 25 provides for a mechanism that will trigger the freezing of assets of terrorists and terrorist groups by the Anti-Money Laundering Council. It is based on a proposal by AMLC that the existing law against terrorist financing lacks the required designation mechanism.
Lacson’s staff said Robles obviously mistook the second reading of a bill for the Senate committee report, then just assumed that Lacson inserted the paragraphs “at the last minute” – “which makes it all the more foul and malicious: Senator Lacson already made clear he abhors violations of the legislative process, and has called out members of Congress for such acts – such as when they inserted their pork barrel in the National Budget bill after its approval on third and final reading or ratification of the bicameral conference committee report, and before the bill was enrolled.”
“It’s one thing to be STUPID – by mistaking the second reading of a bill for the Senate committee report, and making wild assumptions out of it. It’s much worse to be MALICIOUS – having been given the needed corrections but ignoring them to pursue her agenda. Now, being BOTH stupid and malicious, that’s something else,” they said.
Lacson’s staff also said Robles had maligned not only Senator Lacson, but also his staff as well as the entire Senate, “with her malevolent fairy tale” as Lacson’s legislative staff burned the proverbial midnight oil to craft the measure and make sure it adheres to the Constitution; the entire Senate, which went through the bill with a fine-toothed comb were made to appear in Robles’ blog to be sleeping on the job to let the supposed insertions get past them.