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AFP on counter-terror campaign: ‘We are not the enemy’

by Priam Nepomuceno

MANILA — As the government intensifies its efforts against terrorist elements, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo on Thursday reminded the public that the military is not the enemy in this campaign.

“The enemy is neither government or your Armed Forces of the Philippines, we are your protectors, we are your defenders. We understand that apart from the oppositions that we are facing on these proposals and amendments that we wish included, all these, all of these that I have discussed earlier are subject to the wisdom of our legislators,” he said in a press briefing.

In this regard, the AFP spokesperson said they are appealing to the legislators’ wisdom to heed the military’s recommendations to beef up the country’s anti-terror law.

“We understand the apprehension of our people especially on issues of human rights but we assure our people that your Armed Forces is an institution, a professional institution that adheres to the tenets of human rights and international humanitarian law,” Arevalo added.

Also, he pointed out that the AFP is not abandoning Article III or The Bill of Rights in the 1987 Constitution. Earlier, Arevalo stated that the AFP is proposing to penalize any act that will glorify terrorism as part of the bid to strengthen the country’s anti-terrorism law.

“We also like to move to penalize and punish the act of glorification of terrorism. As I have said, one of the platforms, a potent one, that these terrorists use in order recruit and to convert individuals into violent extremists is through social media that they made as a platform to glorify, promote and advance terrorism,” he said.

Also, part of the AFP’s proposal is to penalize, not only consummated act of terrorism but also efforts to recruit and aid terror organizations.

“We are also including in our proposal to penalize not only consummated act of terrorism but also including crimes like inciting to commit terrorism, recruitment to a terrorist organization, and providing material support to terrorists,” Arevalo said.

The AFP spokesperson also said they are planning to coordinate with the legislature so that foreign terrorist fighters and aliens be made liable for terrorism.

“These are just some of the proposals as regards, that we have and we are proposing to Congress to add to the present Human Security Act which to our mind appear to be more restrictive of the security forces rather than empowering members of the security forces,” Arevalo stressed.

Also, the AFP spokesperson said they are also recommending that the 40 years of imprisonment penalty for terrorists be expanded to life without the benefit of parole due to the seriousness of the crime. (PNA)




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