By Aaron Recuenco
The Philippines is enjoying so much democratic freedom that is also currently exploited by criminal and terror groups in pursuing their illegal activities.
Gen. Eduardo Año, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), said this was the reason why Russel Salic was able to freely move and operate in the country for several years before his surrender in April this year.
“The country enjoys so much democratic space that it is being exploited by terror and criminal groups, unlike in other countries like Singapore, US, Malaysia and Australia, where they have a very strict internal security act,” Año said during yesterday’s first meeting of Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Actions at Camp Crame.
Año said there are provisions in the terrorism-related laws of other countries which can hold suspicious persons even without filing charges for as long as there are indications that they are connected to terror groups.
While the Philippines has its own Human Security Act, Año said it is not so strict, unlike that of other countries that effectively address terror threats.
“We have the Human Security Act but we have been requesting to amend or add some provisions because we believe it’s not enough to address the threats against terrorism,” said Año.
Earlier, Salic was quoted as, in one of the message intercepts by the United States that the Philippines has very lax laws on terrorism.
Salic, a doctor in Marawi City, was accused of transferring funds to some terror groups abroad.
National police chief Ronald dela Rosa cited some laws that they have pushing to protect public safety that they continue to deem as an uphill battle.
He cited the case of the national ID System which was supposed to give the government easy access to data on all the Filipinos.
The official lamented that up to this time, anybody could easily buy a SIM card when in fact it is sometimes used in bomb attacks and even in the negotiation for ransom for kidnapping victims.
“So you are asking from us would be our recommendations? Those recommendations have been in the air for quite so long but it is really hard to reverse the mentality of the Filipinos,” said dela Rosa.
The officials, however, were optimistic that legislators would finally realize the need to improve laws on the matters pertaining to terrorism.
Tags: armed forces, criminal groups, democratic freedom, Eduardo Año, Human Security Act, illegal activities, Manila Bulletin, PH democratic freedom expoited by terrorists—AFP chief, terror groups, terror threats