PNP to wait for IRR before implementing Anti-Terror Law—Gamboa

ALTHOUGH it is already selecting officers and men who will be tasked to implement Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, the Philippine National Police will still have to comply with orders from the higher-ups to wait for the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the new law before fully enforcing it with premium on ensuring human rights protection, officials said.

PNP chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa said a PNP unit composed of selected officers and men is being established to implement the anti-terror act. However, he maintained that they are still thoroughly studying how they will tackle its provisions while still waiting for its IRR which is expected to be completed by October this year.

“Many are saying there are provisions of the antiterror law that are already executory and do not require the IRR but nevertheless we still have to study this and find out what these provisions are so that this will be part of the police training,” the top cop said.

“We are on the stage of preparing, waiting for the IRR and then creating units for the specific task of implementing the anti-terror law,” he added without elaborating.

Earlier, both Secretary of Interior and Local Government Eduardo M. Año and Defense chief Delfin N. Lorenzana said the Anti-Terrorism Act will not be enforced without its IRR for as long as there is no terrorist threat to the country.

Sec. Año, the head of the DILG which supervises the PNP admitted that the newly signed law will be “open to questions” once implemented without an IRR.

“But there’s no restriction in implementing the law because the law is already effective and what we will do is to fast track the crafting of the IRR as soon as possible,” the DILG chief said.

He and Sec. Lorenzana also agreed with Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra that it is prudent to wait for the IRR although both stressed that nothing can stop law enforcers from using it once public safety requires it. “Kung meron kasi talagang  terrorist threat, we have to apply the law.  Ngayon, kung wala namang malakihang terrorist threat, we can wait for the IRR,” Sec. Año said.

Under the law, these authorized law enforcers can arrest suspects and detain them without warrant for up to 24 days.

As part of the law’s safeguards, its IRR will be submitted to a joint congressional oversight committee and the Commission on Human Rights, Esperon explained.

At present, the PNP Directorate for Intelligence headed by incoming Major Gen. Ferdinand O. Divina and the PNP Intelligence Group headed by Brigadier Gen. Joseph Ulysses C. Gohel are the two PNP lead units tasked to undertake counter-terrorism operations in the country.

Gen. Gamboa said the new law will give the force a stronger fighting chance of protecting itself and our people against the threats of terrorism.

“We agree with the observations of no less than the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, that the COVID-19 pandemic opens new opportunities for terrorist groups to exploit divisions, local conflicts, weaknesses in governance, and other grievances to advance their objectives thru  emerging forms of terrorism, such as misuse of digital technology, cyber-attacks and bio-terrorism.

With a fully operational anti-terrorism law, we can now better address threats posed by domestic terrorist organizations, including the economic support systems that allow it to thrive, expand and propagate its cause,” Gen. Gamboa said.

The effectivity of the anti-terror law came a day before a brother of slain Abu Sayyaf bomb expert Abdul Basit Usman  who is wanted for his involvement in a 2018 bombing in General Santos City which injured seven innocent civilians was killed in a gunbattle with policemen out to arrest him in his hideout in Polomolok, South Cotabato, Police Regional Office 12 director, Brigadier Gen. Michael John F. Dubria said.

Suspect Ben Usman alias ‘Tons Usman,’ a known member of the ISIS-inspired Ansar-al Khalifa terror ring was about to be arrested in his hiding place in Purok 2, Barangay Lapu in Polomolok when he shot it out with officers and was killed in the process, said the Central Mindanao police chief. The slain suspect yielded a loaded caliber .38 revolver, a grenade and an ISIS flag.