By Roy Mabasa
The global fight against terror has brought together prosecutors, law enforcement officials, and legal experts from the Philippines, Indonesia, and the United States to a comprehensive workshop that focuses on effective investigations and prosecutions of terrorism cases.
Some 52 participants from the three countries attended the workshop held on May 22-23 in General Santos City under the auspices of the US Embassy in Manila, the US Department of Justice (US DOJ) Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training (OPDAT), and in partnership with the Philippine Department of Justice.
Organizers said the workshop was an opportunity for counterterrorism officials from the participating countries to share best practices and develop professional networks.
“I hope this is only the beginning of a lasting relationship and cooperation among our three countries in combating terrorism. Your work will make a difference in global efforts to combat terrorism,” Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy in the Philippines John Law told workshop participants.
During the workshop, participants were introduced to a wide range of tools for investigating terrorism such as digital forensics techniques and cyber investigations, identifying common types of explosives, pre- and post-blast crime scene investigation, and coordination between law enforcement and prosecutors in terrorism cases.
P/Major Ariel Philip Pontillas of the Philippine National Police said the workshop established a “good working relationship between the PNP and prosecutors in our fight against terrorism.”
National Police Commission Commissioner Felizardo Serapio, Jr. shared the Philippines’ perspective on terrorist threats while Acting DOJ Prosecutor General Richard Anthony Fadullon presented on investigating and prosecuting terrorism cases, including rules of criminal procedure, cybercrime warrants, and successfully using evidence in prosecutions.
For her part, Prosecutor Anita Dewayani, of the Indonesian Directorate of Terrorism and Transnational Crimes, discussed Indonesia’s experiences in prosecuting terrorism cases.
Three visiting experts from the United States also delivered their respective presentations – US DOJ National Security Division Counterterrorism Section prosecutor Mary Futcher on the international perspectives on prosecuting terrorism cases, and US Federal Bureau of Investigations expert John Kowatch on the types of explosive devices commonly encountered in the region.
US DOJ Cybercrime Laboratory Director Ovie Carroll discussed online investigations of terrorism cases, including on social media platforms.
The workshop also recognized retired Region IX Prosecutor Peter Medalle for his successful prosecution of terrorism cases in his region. Medalle made his own presentation on best practices in prosecuting terrorism cases.