The government should look for ways to strengthen the capacity and resources of law enforcers against terrorism instead of passing the controversial anti-terror bill, according to human rights lawyer Chel Diokno on Monday.
In an interview on GMA News' Quarantined with Howie Severino, Diokno said the so-called weaknesses of the existing Human Security Act of 2007—the law which the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act seeks to repeal—is not the reason why the Zamboanga and Marawi sieges occurred.
"Lahat naman tayo ayaw natin ng mga terorista, talagang salot sa ating lipunan 'yan. Pero ang tanong ko diyan ay ito ba ay failure of the law or failure of intelligence ang mga nangyaring dating insidenteng 'yan?" he said.
"It's the capabilities that are the problem, hindi 'yung batas. Dapat ang iangat natin ay 'yung kakayahan, 'yung resources, 'yung equipment ng ating law enforcers," he added.
If the state security forces are adequately equipped, foiling terrorist attacks would be easier for them, according to Diokno.
Senator Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa, on the other hand, insisted that intelligence reports are not lacking.
He underscored that certain provisions of the Human Security Act discourage police officers from detaining suspected terrorists.
He said the existing law requires them to pay P500,000 per day that an acquitted suspect is wrongfully detained.
"So ayaw na ayaw talaga naming gamitin. At sa history nga, dahil nga ayaw naming gamitin, isa pa lang since 2007 hanggang ngayon, isa pa lang ang nakonbikto sa Human Security Act. Ito 'yung sa Marawi Siege," Dela Rosa said.
Diokno expressed opposition to the bill's "broad" definition of terrorism; the 14-day detention period for suspected terrorists arrested without warrant which is extendable for 10 more days; and the provision on inciting to terrorism which he warned could be used to gag activists, among others.
The anti-terror bill is now up for President Rodrigo Duterte's signature after the Congress transmitted it to the Palace on June 9. — BM, GMA News