LA TRINIDAD, Benguet (July 25) — Law enforcers are still at a loss in the implementation of the Human Security Act (HSA) the regional police leadership of the Cordillera region told the public Wednesday.
“ Like the militant groups, we, the implementors of the HSA have apprehensions with this law. It is very hard to satisfy the elements that make up terrorism. Questions on who will declare the widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among populace?” said General Raul Gonzales, regional director of Philippine National Police (PNP) Cordillera in Camp Dangwa during the Talakayan sa Isyung Pulis (T.S.I.P.) Kapihan on July 25.
Gonzales, Senior Inspector John Ekid, Legal Officer and Wilfredo Franco, Regional Chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of PNP Cordillera, answered questions on the HSA the police referred to as “a controversial law”.
“We accept, it will be a very difficult task for the police force to implement the law,” Gonzales agreed with the media inquisitor. He added there still lies a confusion on who would shoulder the P500,000 fine for each day of illegally detaining a suspected terrorist.
Five tools vs. terrorism
There are five tools of fighting terrorism said Gonzales. That is the surveillance, proscription of terror groups, detention of suspected terrorists, freezing of bank account of suspected terrorists and restriction of travel or house arrest.
The Court of Appeals gives the authority for who will be under surveillance and will determine the probable cause. There is only one Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) nationwide which will determine the basis of surveillance. The ATC will be composed of the Executive Secretary, the Justice Secretary, the Defense Secretary, the Foreign Affairs Secretary, the Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary, the Finance Secretary and the National Security Adviser.
Conversations between a reporter and source, a doctor and patient and between a lawyer and his client will not be covered by surveillance as stated in act.
On the other hand, Gonzales said the three-day detention without warrant is not enough to investigate suspected terrorists and that the police needs a longer time to prepare documents to be presented in court.
“Three days is too short,” Gonzales said, adding, “ We need a longer time, especially if there is an eminent act of terrorism.” He adds that has protects the lives and property of the innocent citizens.
Gonzales cited as an example of an unlawful demand is asking to release a detainee.
“My sentiment to the law is that it is hard to implement; this is a liability to the law enforcer. What is fear and panic? Widespread?” said Ekid responding to press query in the open forum that followed the discussions. He also said these contentions were raised in a forum at Camp Crame but they also do not know the answer and that the National Headquarters (of PNP) is still studying more about the law.
The worry of the police in the implementation of HSA is, the apprehension that there are more punishments (19) provided for wrong implementation than the elements of the crimes consisting terrorism which are the principal, accessory, accomplice said Gonzales.
Gonzales agreed and disagreed on the Baguio Press Club President Gerry Evangelista’s statement that there should be an Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the said law. He agreed on one hand that it is good to have an IRR so that the law would be clearer. On the other hand, he disagreed because he fears that the law might be amended if there is an IRR.
Evangelista, iterated that an IRR does not amend a law, but provides for guidelines for implementing the law.
“The national headquarters is still studying the law to come up with the Police Operational Procedures on how to implement it. We are still waiting for that guidance so that our first act right now is public information and also to guide and educate our personnel, “ Gonzales said iterating that not all laws needed an IRR.
Franco said, “There is a need of this law. We will implement it to ensure the liberty of the people, we will be doing our part – inform the public about the law. But I have a feeling of caution on it because of its provisions on the wrong implementation.”
Gonzales denied the militant groups’ claim that HSA is an undeclared Martial Law. He said, “This is not an undeclared martial law. The court decides on who would be arrested and detained here, unlike during the martial law the government decided who should be jailed.”
“The HSA is necessary for the protection of the citizenry for the government to comply of the constitution in protecting the people. It is for the liberty and welfare of the people. Its intention is to have a comfortable life. Let us give a chance to the HSA to be implemented. Let us study about the law,” said Gonzales on his final statement.
According to Gonzales, the crime rate of the Cordillera from January to June 2007 is decreased by 15%, which has a total of 673, compared to the same 6-month period last year. He said this data shows an economic progress because cases of robbery and theft has lowered and that employment problem has slowly been resolved. # Keidy M. Transfiguracion for NORDIS