RA 11479 to end the communist insurgency

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The war against terrorism was one of the many programs the Duterte administration has taken very seriously and rigorously executed. Upon hearing the news of the Marawi siege early in his presidency, he faced a tremendous issue regarding the maintenance of security and stability in the country’s southern region. On May 23, 2017, there was an exchange of fire and bullets in Marawi between government-affiliated Philippine soldiers and an alliance of Islamic State-affiliated terrorists (IS). The Maute Group, the Abu Sayyaf Group, led the besieging operation led by Isnilon Hapilon and other international jihadists.

Marawi, formerly known as Dansalan, is the capital city of the Philippine province of Lanao del Sur. It is located on the northern shore of Lake Lanao and is the most populous city in the Muslim Mindanao Autonomous Region (ARMM). As of the 2020 census, Marawi’s population exceeded two hundred thousand people. The brutal conflict between government troops and ISIS-aligned terrorists lasted five months and displaced 98 percent of the population. Due to the scarcity of food and the burden on the local businesses, even inhabitants of neighboring settlements were compelled to leave their homes.

Before taking control of the city’s main streets, the radicals burned down a Catholic church, the local jail, and two schools. In addition, they murdered a police officer and took churchgoers as hostages. The attack killed 1,200 individuals, including militants, civilians, and government personnel. In addition, it has caused widespread destruction of the nation’s infrastructure. In less than a month, the violence in Marawi and the neighboring regions forced more than 400 thousand people to evacuate their homes. Hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent residents remained in the city during the weeks or months it was under siege, either as captives or as those caught in the crossfire. They remained there since the city was under assault.

The inhabitants of Marawi and the surrounding areas have had to adopt a new way of life. During the siege of Marawi, around 24,000 students were forced to abandon their homes and flee the city; however, only a fraction of these students returned to their regular educational institutions. Over eighty percent of moved children continued their education at their old residences.

The battle that broke out in Marawi has repercussions throughout the rest of Mindanao. The incident has caused mental suffering and impacted the community’s capacity to live in peace and safety. This is in addition to the death toll and infrastructural destruction. The rapid takeover of the entire city by militants prompted the former Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law and suspend the writ of habeas corpus throughout the whole island of Mindanao. To ensure everyone’s safety throughout the region, the military law period has been extended by two years.

Since the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, the Philippines has been involved in a protracted struggle against terrorism. This conflict reached its climax with the battle of Marawi. The antagonist in this battle was the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), which had ties to Al Qaeda at the time of the fight and presently has links to the Islamic State.

The events in Marawi were one of the driving causes for the Duterte administration’s push for the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. Three years after the catastrophe in Marawi, he signed the bill to tackle the long-running communist insurgency and terrorism in the Philippines.

The Human Security Act of 2007, or RA 9372, was repealed by the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, also known as Republic Act No. 11479. This statute, which prevents, forbids, and punishes terrorist activities, is sometimes referred to as the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. The law reveals that the state realized that combating terrorism necessitates a comprehensive approach involving political, economic, diplomatic, military, and legal tools that address the fundamental causes of terrorism and criminal acts. The state’s acknowledgment evidence that a comprehensive strategy is required to combat terrorism. According to the Constitution, the state’s responsibility is to protect the citizens’ fundamental rights and liberties. Nothing in the Act should be viewed as reducing the executive branch’s authority below that provided in the Constitution.

Section 49 of the Revised Penal Code states that anyone can commit terrorism, regardless of location (inside or outside the Philippines) or planning (whether the act has been carried out or not). This provision’s definition of terrorism does not include advocating, protesting, disputing, stopping work, participating in industrial or mass action, or engaging in other acts similar to civil and political rights. A terrorist act is performed when a person creates a public emergency or threatens public safety. This may involve disturbing or destroying a nation’s fundamental political, economic, or social systems.

The Act defines critical infrastructure as any physical or virtual asset or system that is essential to the operation of societal functions or the delivery of public services and that, in the event of its malfunction or destruction, would have a detrimental effect on the defense and security of the nation. This definition includes telecommunications, emergency services, transportation, information systems, television, radio, and any individual or group classified by the national security agency as a terrorist or as supporting a terrorist organization.

Planning, training, preparing, inciting, or facilitating terrorist acts is illegal. A person is guilty of inciting others to commit terrorism if, without personally engaging in terrorist activity, they utilize speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems, banners, or any other representations to urge others to commit any of the crimes specified above. Anyone who arranges or facilitates recruitment travel to a state other than their home state or country of citizenship shall be subject to the same punishment. Terrorists convicted under the Republic Act 10592 face the prospect of a life sentence without parole and other privileges.

On the other side, some individuals have contended that specific provisions of the legislation are unlawful and infringe the citizens’ right to freedom of expression. The Supreme Court of the Philippines ruled on December 9, 2021, that two elements of a controversial anti-terrorism statute passed the previous year violated the country’s constitution. The court overturned the ruling that would have made it illegal to hold potentially detrimental demonstrations, as deemed by the government. Other elements that have been challenged, such as the potential of arresting someone without a warrant and detaining them for twenty-four days, do not violate the Constitution and can continue to be implemented. The Supreme Court of the Philippines declared that the country’s anti-terrorism committee might hold a suspected terrorist for up to twenty-four days without a court warrant. According to information provided by the rights organization Kaparatan, the Philippines already had around 700 political prisoners. Four hundred eighty-nine of them were taken into custody during the present administration.

Rodrigo Duterte, the former president of the Philippines, defended the rule of law and declared that law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear. According to the Anti-Money Laundering Council of the country, the law plays a crucial role in the fight against “dirty money” and the financing of terrorists.

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