The initial groups and persons to be included in the government’s list of terrorists under the new anti-terrorism law will come from the United Nations, according to National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon.
Speaking at the Laging Handa briefing on Saturday, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, or Republic Act 11479, Esperon said the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) would have to meet to ensure that all its members would have a “common understanding” of the law and then draft its implementation rules.
“The first thing we would do is look at what is in the list of the UN Security Council. We are following what the United Nations and the new UN Office for Counterterrorism have discovered, ” he said.
“If there are organisations and names there that they know to be terrorists, we will put them in our list, ” Esperon said.
The anti-terrorism law states that the ATC will automatically adopt the UN Security Council Consolidated List of designated individuals and organisations designated or identified as a terrorist, or one who finances terrorism or a terrorist group.
The ATC may also designate groups or individuals, whether domestic or foreign, as terrorists upon a finding of probable cause that they committed or attempted to commit, or conspired in the commission of acts penalised under the anti-terrorism law.
Esperon explained that after the designations, the justice secretary, one of the ATC members, would petition the Court of Appeals to declare organisations and persons belonging to these groups as terrorists.
He said that terrorist acts were not “ordinary killings or destruction of properties” but those whose purpose was “to intimidate the general public or cause disorder”.
The court could issue a preliminary approval of proscription declaring a person or group a terrorist, and hold hearings for up to six months before issuing a final ruling.
Surveillance of proscribed persons and groups, which could last a maximum 90 days, must have permission from the appeals court.
Esperon, a former military chief of staff, also said social media may be used as a basis for designating a terrorist.
“Use of social media as basis will be uncovered during surveillance which by itself must also have the permission of (the appeals) court, ” he said in a text message.
Arrests could be made after surveillance, and those making an arrest must have written authorisation, Esperon said. — Philippines Daily Inquirer/ANN