Press Release
October 24, 2007


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said the temporary suspension of the anti-terrorism law (Human Security Act) during the election season does not render law enforcement and security agencies helpless in going after terrorists.

Pimentel said the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies can still rely on the Revised Penal Code and other applicable laws to file and prosecute criminal charges against terror suspects during the suspension of the effectivity of the HSA (Republic Act 9287) one month before and two months after the October 29 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

He was reacting to the criticism of security and justice officials of the executive branch that the HSA has been reduced to a toothless law during the election period, specially in the wake of last week's alleged bombing of the Glorietta 2 Mall in Makati City which was suspected to be the handiwork of terrorists.

"They are correct in saying that the Human Security Act is inoperable at this time. But this does not mean our law enforcers will be helpless in combating terrorism because there are other laws that they can apply. There is, for instance, the Revised Penal Code that they are presumed to be familiar with," the minority leader said.

Pimentel explained that the temporary suspension of the HSA during the election period was incorporated by lawmakers to prevent a situation where unscrupulous political forces may take advantage of this law to harass, harm and even kill rival leaders especially from the opposition and progressive groups.

In other words, he said the suspension clause was intended to be a safeguard against a possible escalation of violence and extra-judicial killings which have been a scourge of society in recent years due to the failure of the political leaders to clamp down on rogue elements in the military and police.

Pimentel pointed out that the 12 acts of terrorism enumerated under the Human Security Act are already punishable under the Revised Penal Code, martial law decrees issued by the late President Ferdinand Marcos and other laws.

Those punishable under the Revised Penal Code are piracy, rebellion, coup d' etat, murder, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, and crimes involving destruction.

Those punishable under martial law decrees are arson (Presidential Decree 1613), piracy and highway robbery (PD 532), illegal and unlawful possession, manufacturer and disposition of firearms, ammunition and explosives (PD 1866).

Those punishable under other laws are possession and distribution of toxic substances and hazardous and nuclear wastes (Republic Act 6969), and violations of the Atomic Energy Regulatory and Liability Act (RA 5207).

Pimentel said law enforcers should not make the temporary suspension of the HSA an excuse that their hands are tied in cracking down on terrorists.

"The investigation of terrorist acts can still be done without using the anti-terrorism law. There is nothing in the law that says there will be a lull in the campaign against terrorists during the election period. This is because there are other existing laws that the law enforcers can fall back on," he said.

In fact, Pimentel said that his original position was that there was no need for a separate anti-terrorism law on the ground that the Revised Penal Code and other existing laws were sufficient to equip law enforcers with the legal weapon to combat terrorism. He said he had also warned that the enactment of the new law would only result to redundancy which is bound to cause confusion in the criminal justice system.

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