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Lacson defends Anti-Terrorism Bill at media forum.

By Mario Casayuran

The well-funded Middle East terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) planned to turn Marawi City (Lanao del Sur) into a caliphate by bringing in billions of pesos and helping stage a siege that lasted for five months starting on May 23, 2017.

Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, chairman of the Senate national defense and security committee, revealed this during a media forum where he defended the controversial Anti-Terrorism Bill (ATB) that human rights advocates and the academe criticize.

With a war chest full of dollars after controlling oil wells in parts controlled by ISIS, the terrorist group poured in billions in pesos for the long-range plan in concert with its surrogates in Mindanao that eventually turned Marawi City into a battle-scarred city, Lacson stated.

This is because the government has weak laws to check the inflow of foreign currencies, he stated.

''Bilyon ang pumasok diyan na magpondo sa Marawi siege dahil international ito. Kasi ISIS-affiliated. Alam mo ba ng ISIS nakacontrol ng oil wells nang nagkagulo sa Iraq, ang dami nilang pera,'' he said. (Billions of pesos came in to finance the Marawi siege because it is international in scope. It is affiliated with ISIS. ISIS controlled oil wells (in the Middle East) when Iraq was in turmoil. They had so much money.)

''Sila ngayon kung gusto mag-estabish ng caliphate at napili nila ang Marawi, doon sila sana magtatayo ng caliphate, under control, lalawak ito palawak sa Mindanao at pwede makarating sa Visayas at Luzon at buong bansa,'' They wanted to establish a caliphate and they chose Marawi. Mindanao is vast and they could move towards the Visayas and Luzon.)

The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police (PNP) faced off the ISIS, including the Maute and the Abu Sayyaf Jihadist groups during the months-long siege that claimed countless lives and ravaged properties.

The battle became the longest urban battle in the modern history of the Philippines.

On the issue of warrantless arrest of ''suspected terrorists,'' Lacson assured the Filipino people that and and his fellow lawmakers put safeguards.

''Warrantless arrest authorized ito under the Rules of Court,'' he said.

In earlier interviews, Lacson said that law enforcers are mandated to inform the courts and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) immediately after effecting the arrest of suspects.

Lacson expressed hopes that President Duterte would soon sign the ATB into law ''kasi kailangang kailangan natin ito.'' (Because we need it.)

Lacson said the Senate committee heard the counsel of the country's security cluster made up of the National Security Council (NSC), National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), Department of National Defense (DND), and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) .

He also said the government also sought the advice of Australia.

Lacson, likewise, consulted with strong democracies such as the United States and the European Union.

''Would these countries help the Philippines violate human rights?'' he asked. ''Sila nga ang puna nang puna,'' he added. (They are the ones who needle us constantly.)

Lacson stressed that he and his committee encourage public discourse on the issue but pleaded that mass disinformation must stop because Filipinos are being blindsided by fake news.

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Senate Panfilo Lacson (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
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Title Annotation:National; Panfilo Lacson
Author:Casayuran, Mario
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Jun 17, 2020
Words:539
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