By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Muntinlupa City Rep. Rozzano Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon is seeking the approval next week of a substitute bill that would add more teeth to the Human Security Act of 2007 and preempt terrorists acts.
The senior vice chairman of the House Committee on National Defense and Security, who chairs the TWG on the proposed amendments to the Republic Act 9372, said his panel is flexing muscles to finalize the substitute bill that would be submitted to the joint mother committee next week for approval.
“There is no approval yet but we will finalize the working draft for submission to the joint mother committee–the House Committee on National Defense and Security and House Committee on Public Order and Safety,” Biazon said in an interview, when asked on the status of the proposed amendments to the 2007 law.
“The TWG is striving to complete the substitute bill within the week so we can refer to the mother committee as soon as possible,” he said.
He urged the joint panel to approve the substitute bill next week before Congress adjourns on Feb. 6 to pave the way for the election campaign.
“We’re hoping that the joint mother committee could then convene and pass it on or before Feb. 6,” Biazon said.
When asked if the Lower Chamber still has time to pass the proposed amendments to the Human Security Act before 17th Congress ends, he said it is up to the House leadership. “It depends if it will be given priority,” he said.
Biazon said the Jolo Cathedral bombing highlighted the need to amend the Human Security Act.
He said the proposed amendments to the 2007 law “provides a mechanism to make those who plan and support terrorists accountable under the law.”
The Biazon panel jumpstarted on Monday its discussions on the substitute bill proposing amendments to the 2007 law, including the imposition of life imprisonment against any person who proposes to commit the crime of terrorism and any person who shall recruit another to join any organization, association or group of persons organized for the purpose of engaging in terrorism.
“It is time for us to take action; actually, this is a long-delayed action. Life imprisonment is non-bailable that is the reason why [we amend the law].We want them [terrorists] to be immediately contained so as not to perpetuate some more [terror activities],” Biazon said.
At the TWG meeting, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) Deputy Director General for Special Concerns Abelardo Villacorta and Immigration Intelligence Chief Fortunato Manahan Jr. batted for “stronger” anti-terror law.
“It is time for us na magkaron ng mas malakas na batas kaysa sa kasakuyang Human Security Act dahil sa nature ng krimen na ginagawa ng terorista. The threat of terrorism is worldwide, nakita nyo naman nangyari sa Jolo Cathedral [bombing]. Napakarami ang naging biktima,” Villacorta said.
For his part, Manahan said, “Terrorism 10 years ago is not the same terrorism acts being committed nowadays so sa atin lang magbigay ng daan, magkaron ng linya para mapalakas ang House Bill na prinopropose ng TWG.”
But, Makabayan lawmakers opposed the bill being pushed by the TWG, saying that it would only increase the snowballing incidents of human rights violations.
The substitute bill is the consolidation of House Bill 7141 or “An Act to Secure the State and Protect our People from Terrorism” and House Bill 5507, which seeks to declare as unlawful the membership in any Philippine court-proscribed or United Nations Security Council-designated terrorist organization.” Both bills were introduced by Pangasinan Rep. Amado Espino Jr., chairman of the House Committee on National Defense and Security.