'Manila needs to beef up security laws'

Updated On: Mar 11, 2005

Manila– ThePhilippinesstill lacks adequate security laws even though it chairs two international bodies on anti-terrorism, said the Australia-based United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

For example, while terrorist suspects in several other Southeast Asian countries can be detained indefinitely, Philippine laws state that suspects must be released within 36 hours if no charges are filed.

Suspects thus are typically charged with lesser crimes, such as murder, attempted murder or illegal possession of explosives, which are punishable by 17 years in jail.

The UNODC also noted that the current Philippine criminal laws do not take into account the 12 universal Anti-Terrorism Conventionswhich the country has ratified.

These include the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the International Convention Against the Taking of Hostages.

The UN mission was in thePhilippineslast week on a fact-finding mission and to offer its recommendations on how the government can improve some of the 10 anti-terrorism bills pending in Congress.

Following UNODC’s visit, the Arroyo government is rushing to consolidate several proposed versions of an anti-terrorism measure so that a comprehensive bill can be filed in Congress before it goes on recess next week.

A government spokesman said thereis bipartisan support for the proposed anti-terrorism bill.

* Palace rushing consolidation of anti-terror bills in Congress (The Philippine Star, March 10)

* UN body backs RP anti-terror (The Philippine Star, March 9)

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