Anti-terrorism Act cited by AMLC

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    TERRORISM feeds on people and money to further its horrific activities, and so the government has rightfully focused its fight against organized terror — whether religion-based or not — on monitoring and initiating operations that are centered on organization and finance.

    The surgical arrests of labor and human rights leaders suspected of participating in armed insurgency in Rizal, Laguna and Cavite during the second week of March were covered by legal court warrants. It was unfortunate that, according to President Duterte, several suspects engaged the police in a firefight and were killed. This is part of the people-focused fight against terrorism.

    ‘Without a final decision from the highest tribunal, incidents such as these in Southern Tagalog and in Davao are bound to occur, with legal shelter provided by the ATA.’

    The fight against terrorism financing is a nascent one, and so, it is just notching gains. Buried in the news during the Holy Week is the issuance by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) of a freeze order on three bank accounts worth P600,000 of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP)-Haran Center in Davao City. The freeze order also covered a lot and building owned by Brokenshire Integrated Health Ministries Inc.

    Expectedly, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) denounced the order of the AMLC which is acting on the strength of the newly signed Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). The AMLC said they took action because they have verified information that the UCCP-Haran’s assets were being “used to finance terrorism” and that the center indoctrinated the Lumads (tribal Filipinos) with “communist ideals.”

    Terribly hurt by the legal move of the government against one of its members, the NCCP clarified that the UCCP-Haran “has been a safe haven for Lumads fleeing from rampant militarization in their communities.”

    The church organization said what the AMLC did was a direct assault on the ministry of the UCCP and would further put in danger the lives of internally displaced Lumads who sought refuge in Haran. The group urged the national government to lift the freeze order, stop the alleged harassment against the UCCP and other rights defenders, and fully uphold human rights.

    The Anti-Terrorism Act, on which the AMLC based its operations against UCCP, is being implemented by the government even as several petitions are pending in the Supreme Court questioning its legality.

    Without a final decision from the highest tribunal, incidents such as these in Southern Tagalog and in Davao are bound to occur, with legal shelter provided by the ATA. We hope the SC will be able to resolve these issues with a definitive ruling, and soon — with or without the pandemic.

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