The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) supports the proposed amendment of the Human Security Act (HSA) of 2007, particularly the longer wiretapping and detention period “to improve the government’s capacity to fight terrorism and ensure the safety and security of the entire country.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año says that terrorism is a coordinated crime mounted over time, sometimes years, which can be countered through calculated strategies and intelligence efforts. He says that an extended wiretapping and detention period will advance the government's anti-terrorism campaign.
“We are facing new and old terrorism challenges. To meet this challenge, our laws must adapt as well to the changing security environment,” he said.
"Based on experience, tackling terrorism is massively different from other crimes. Investigating terror groups or individuals can be tedious, hence, requires time and the proposed extension of wiretapping and detention period can definitely boost the government's counterterrorism efforts," says Año, a former intelligence chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
"Ang mga teroristang ito ay walang sinasanto. Hindi nila iniisip kung ilan ang madadamay kaya naman kailangan nating tiyakin na handa ang pamahalaan na protektahan ang mga mamamayan,"he adds.
Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana recently recommended broadening the permissible wiretapping and detention period at a joint public hearing of the Senate committees on national defense and security and on finance.
In the current stipulation of the HSA, a legally approved wiretapping period is 30 days that can be extended or renewed by the authorizing Court of Appeals and shall not exceed 30 days from the expiration of the original period. The Defense Secretary is looking to extend the wiretapping period to 90 days.
Lorenzana also pitched to increase the detention period of suspected terrorists under a warrantless arrest from 36 hours to up to 60 days.
Año says there are already safeguards in the law that address the concern that it may be abused by law enforcers. "The HSA is in place to ensure that no abuse will take place. At natitiyak ko na kung mangyayari ang pagbabago sa nasabing batas, mas paiigtingin pa ang pagsiguro na hindi ito maaabuso."
He explains that according to Section 7 of the HSA, only upon a written order from the Court of Appeals can a police or law enforcement official or a member of his team can perform wiretapping operations.
He also says that in the same Act, under Section 18, any police or law enforcement personnel who is authorized in writing by the Anti-Terrorism Council and has taken custody a suspected terrorist must "deliver said charged or suspected person to the proper judicial authority within a period of three days counted from the moment the said charged or suspected person has been apprehended or arrested, detained, and taken into custody."
"The current administration will not allow abuse in the HSA to happen. Sa kasalukuyang porma ng HSA, may mga safety nets na pinaiiral. With the proposed amendments, respect for human rights is ensured," says Año.
The DILG is part of the Security, Justice and Peace Cluster, the proponent government cluster that is spearheading the modification of the HSA.