Senator Bato Dela Rosa is pushing to amend the provision of the Anti-Terrorism Law that prescribes the reglementary period of detention for suspected terrorists.
During the hearing conducted by the Committee on National Defense and Security chaired by Senator Ping Lacson, Dela Rosa sought the revision of Republic Act 9372 also known as the Human Security Act of 2007, particularly the reglementary period of detention for terror suspects.
Dela Rosa said law enforcement personnel should be allowed to detain suspected terrorists for at least 30 days without a valid court order considering the complexities of investigating terror acts in the present security situation.
Under existing law, suspected terrorists “may not be detained for more than three days without judicial warrant of arrest.”
The legislator said a longer period of detention for suspects could help a lot in the process of gathering solid pieces of evidence that will eventually indict them in court.
“Sana ma-revisit itong reglementary period for terrorism offenses, kung binigyan tayo kahit one week lang, we can collect solid evidence to indict the suspect… kaya lang 36 hours lang after that release na if there is no solid evidence otherwise we will be liable of arbitrary detention,” the lawmaker said.
The senator cited an instance during his stint as police director of Davao City where they arrested one foreign national believed to be involved in terror activities. In accordance with the law, they were forced to release the suspect within the prescribed time due to insufficient evidence. The suspect, he said, was seen a year later in an online video post beheading a captive German journalist in Syria.
“There was a time where we arrested and jailed a foreign national who is a suspected terrorist… because of the prescribed reglementary period, I called on the military intelligence to help me and provide the necessary evidence to indict the suspect, pero kailangan naming release ang tao because of the existing law,” he noted.
“Kung naiayos natin ang batas na ito, sana we could have saved lives,” dela Rosa explained.
“Thirty days is really enough time for the security sector to conduct a thorough probe.”
“Thirty days is really enough time for the security sector to conduct a thorough probe, to conduct follow up operations and counteractions,” he added.
Dela Rosa added that the three-day reglementary period is not enough to get information from arrested terrorists.
“Once we capture a hardcore terrorist, it would really take some time before we could extract relevant and useful information.”
“Our experience proves that once we capture a hardcore terrorist, it would really take some time before we could extract relevant and useful information… kulang talaga ang tatlong araw lang,” he said.
The former police chief also noted that the proposed 30-day reglementary period will also serve as a good disruptive measure for counteractions to prevent imminent attacks by the terrorists.
The current law states that suspected terrorists can be detained only for 3 days maximum, which is now being discussed to be increased to 14 days, but Dela Rosa is pushing for the increase to at least 30 days.