THE VOTE: What is the purpose and why is it so urgent to have an Anti Terrorism law?

[Lanao del Norte 2nd district Rep. Mohamad Khalid Q. Dimaporo  explains via Zoom, why he abstained from voting on HB 6875  (the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020), at the House of Representatives’ session on 3 June 2020]

Thank Mr. Speaker.  First on the onset,  I’d like to state that I voted to abstain on House Bill 6875 and I want to place on the record my support for the Duterte administration in its fight against terrorism. My vote for Martial in Mindanao, when I voted yes, speaks for that case. My vote for the extension of Martial Law, when I voted yes, also speaks for that case.

However, when it comes to Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, House Bill 6875, I felt compelled to have to vote in abstention and the reason being, foremost, we were not allowed to ask any question.

Lanao del Norte 2nd district Rep. Mohamad Khalid Q. Diamporo explains via Zoom why he abstained from voting on HB 6875 during the House of Representatives’ session on 03 June 2020. Screengrabbed from livestreamed session

I simply wanted to be cleared on you know ..  clarificatory questions that I wanted answered so I can understand how important House Bill 6875 is for our country.

First, I wanted to know, what is the status now?  We just went through how many years of martial law and I have reports from the Regional Peace and order Council,  Provincial Peace and order Council that in the Lanao Region we have eradicated the terrorists.

So what’s the status now? Why is is it so urgent we have an Anti-Terrorism law? Akala ko tapos na tayo dito?

I could not ask that question in the plenary

Secondly, I wanted to know, what is the purpose and why is it so urgent to have an Anti Terrorism law? When we discussed the extension of martial law for Mindanao, I asked Secretary Lorenzana that in Mindanao we benefit from the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus but what about in Luzon and in Visayas? We  have more than 80 terrorists at large. How are you going to capture them without the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus?

Ang sagot ni Sec. Lorenzana: those terrorists have been filed cases and have standing arrest warrants.

If we were able to do it that way, why do we need  House Bill 6875 when we have the capability and the manpower and the ability to file cases, terrorists that are at large. I wanted that answered in the plenary so that at least I have a clean conscience in voting and supporting House Bill 6875.

Now, my third question that I wanted answered, Mr. Speaker: what’s the practicability of this Anti-Terror Bill? What’s the real meat of this is to detain terrorists but all you have to do is to look up the top two terrorists that were at large in Mindanao: Isnilon Hapilon. Two, Marwan.  Never did it end in detention of these terrorists As soon as SAF went into Maguindanao to capture Marwan, it ended into a firefight. When the AFP heard that Isnilon Hapilon was there in Marawin City, they were ambushed and we ended up with the Marawi Siege.

There is no practicability in serving an arrest warrant or trying to capture high profile terrorists, real terrorists.

What we really need in Mindanao are moreolice and more armed forces so that we can properly secure our region.

These are questions that I wanted answered but we were not allowed to ask clarificatory questions, so I cannot vote in good conscience vote yes for House Bill 6875.

And last and not the least, Mr. Speaker, I would like to place on the record that my real contention where I feel uneasy is the issue of warrantless arrests and I feel that it is unfair for us   in the House of Representative that we were not allowed to amend Section 29. We were accused in several Congresses — 16th, 17th Congress –of being a rubber stamp of Malacanang. You know, if we act this way and we do not, and we were not allowed to amend the Senate Bill we might be accused of being the rubber stamp of the Senate.

I believe that we could have come up a better version and how I wish we could have amended Section 29, Mr. Speaker.

These are the reasons why I vote in abstention and I wanted to place it on record so the administration will know the reason of my vote and why I could not support House Bill 6875. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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