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Sarado na utak eh! Nothing more can be done about critics who reject anti-terror bill without reading it, Ping laments

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Not much more can be done about critics of the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 who rail against it without reading it in the first place, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Thursday.

Lacson said this applies to critics ranging from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to former Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio, and Integrated Bar of the Philippines head Domingo Cayosa.

“The problem with the critics of the Anti-Terrorism Bill like the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights and the others is that they criticize without even reading the bill itself,” he said in a statement.

“If you close your mind and refuse to listen to reason, nothing else can be done,” he added, at a meeting of the Rotary Club of Manila.

Lacson maintained he and his colleagues at the Senate crafted the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 based on the guidelines and standards set by the United Nations Security Council’s Resolution 1373.

It was the UN that prodded the Philippines to strengthen its laws against terrorism, he added.

“So, is this the United Nations going up against the United Nations?” he said, referring to the contrasting calls of the UN Security Council and Bachelet.

On the other hand, Lacson said he was surprised Carpio and Cayosa didn’t know the difference between “designation” of terrorist individuals, groups, organizations/associations on the one hand and “proscription” of terrorist organizations on the other.

He said Carpio was quoted during his presentation in a webinar hosted by the Management Association of the Philippines by saying that “once designated, the suspected terrorist can now be arrested upon order of the Anti-Terrorism Council.”

If only Carpio read Sec 25 of the ATB, he should have known that “designation” as defined under the bill is a purely administrative process intended to trigger the issuance of a “freeze order” by the Anti-Money Laundering Council, not even the ATC, which by the way is already a provision under RA 10168 or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012, Lacson said.

Lacson added not a single mention of the word “arrest” is found in Sec 25 of the ATB.

Also, he said proscription needs court intervention that requires due notice and hearing by the Court of Appeals. Even membership in a proscribed terrorist organization will undergo the same due process of law where the burden of proof lies with the DOJ before the authorized division of the Court of Appeals can declare that individual as a member of a proscribed terrorist organization and thereafter can be arrested.

“Having said that, there are people, learned as they are, merely jumped into the wagon of criticisms without thoroughly reading and understanding the provisions under the proposed measure. All the misinterpretations and misconceptions triggered by an avalanche of misinformation and disinformation that dominated the mainstream and social media platforms have unduly influenced their thinking,” Lacson lamented.

Lacson said that when he rebutted point by point all the controversies created by such disinformation surrounding the ATB, he gained many converts at the Rotary Club of Manila meeting.

“I can assure you, the ATB is a good law – one that is swift, effective and most importantly, constitutional,” he said.

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