Press Release
December 22, 2006


Three major amendments to the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act suggested by the Senate minority bloc have been approved by the Senate, after the bills sponsor, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, posed no objections to them.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) said Enrile has agreed to their proposal to further reduce from 5 days to only 3 days the number of days of detention for terrorist suspects not formally charged and arrested without court warrant. Enriles original proposal was for the period of detention to last for 15 days.

Pimentel said that another amendment accepted by Enrile was for a person accused of terrorist links or acts to be indemnified by the government in the amount of P50,000 for every day that he is wrongfully detained.

The third amendment adopted was for the accused to be spared from prosecution for lesser crimes upon his or her exoneration from terrorist charges by the courts.

In seeking the shortening of the period of detention of a terror suspect without the benefit of a court warrant, Pimentel invoked the right of accused persons under the Constitution to post bail except for those charged with offenses punishable by life imprisonment when the evidence of guilt is strong.

Article III (Bill of Rights) section 13, provides that the right to bail shall not be impaired even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended.

I suggest that the 3-day period during which a person may be detained without charges even during a rebellion or invasion when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended, is a constitutional demarcation line that must not be breached, Pimentel said.

He said a shorter duration of detention for suspects not formally charges will also discourage their manhandling while in jail.

As proposed by the minority bloc, the acquittal by the courts of any person who is accused of terrorism shall entitled him or her to claim damages in the amount of not less than P50,000 for every day that he or she had been detained or deprived of liberty or arrested without a warrant as a result of such an accusation.

The amendment will discourage frivolous accusations and make certain that only air-tight indictments of terrorism should be brought before the courts and only such charges should be used as basis for the detention of persons accused of terrorism for justifying the seizure, sequestration and freezing of his or her properties, Pimentel explained.

In the U.S., Pimentel said, the government agreed to pay last November 29, $2 million to Brandon Mayfield who was wrongly arrested and detained for 2 weeks as a terrorist.

Enrile has also accepted the amendment propounded by the minority bloc that if the indictment of terrorism is not proven, the accused shall be acquitted of the crime charged and of all other offenses whose elements may be included in the indictment.

The proposal will discourage the power wielders of the country from charging people with the crime of terrorism, have them surveilled and arrested without warrant in the hope that anyway if the accusation of terrorism do not stick, other lesser offenses may lead to the conviction of the accused, Pimentel said.

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