Philippine anti-terrorism law

New Army chief vows no abuse of anti-terror law under his watch

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New Army chief vows no abuse of anti-terror law under his watch

COMMANDING GENERAL. Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana assumes his post as the chief of the Philippine Army

Philippine Army photo

'I shall see to it that no soldier will abuse the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020,' promises newly installed Army chief Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana

There would be no abuse of the controversial Anti-Terrorism Law under his tenure, newly installed Philippine Army chief Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana said on Tuesday, August 4.

“I shall see to it that no soldier will abuse the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 and compel each one to exercise self-restrain and discipline in invoking and implementing the said act,” Sobejana said during his assumption address in Fort Bonifacio.

Why does this matter?

The Philippine government is being denounced for prioritizing in the middle of a pandemic the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

The law, which allows the government to define what terror is and to arrest without a warrant on mere suspicion of committing terror, has been flagged by rights defenders and lawyers as prone to abuse against dissent. There are currently 21 petitions filed by different groups with the Supreme Court against the legislation.

How will it be used?

Sobejana said the law should be used against communists and established terrorist groups, particularly those which he has spent years battling in Mindanao. Sobejana was the chief of the Armed Forces in Western Mindanao, the hotbed of terrorist groups.

“With the recent passing of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, our operational campaigns on communist and terrorist groups will now have legal basis,” he said.

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His other thrusts

As the commander of the military’s ground forces, Sobejana stressed that his troops would continue to stand behind the government in responding to the coronavirus pandemic, while continuing to battle terrorists in the region.

“The attainment of peace is a collaborative peace, empowered undertaking. It must involve the commitment and support of the community, the government, the private sector, including our stakeholders, and other members of the uniformed service, all working to attain the common good for the interest and service of others,” he said. –

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