Wed. Jul 28th, 2021

MANILA — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) welcomed on Thursday the Senate’s approval of a stronger anti-terrorism law in the country.

“The AFP is grateful to the Senate that they heeded our call for a more stringent law that confronts and defines terrorism and what constitutes it, among other new and amendatory provisions it contains,” AFP spokesperson, Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, said in a message to reporters.

Through the measure sponsored by Senator Panfilo Lacson, Arevalo said the AFP and other government security forces will be further empowered and capacitated in their campaigns to protect and secure our people against the global menace of terrorism.

“We assure our countrymen that aside from sufficient safeguards already enshrined in the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act and the Bill of Rights embedded in the 1987 Constitution, the AFP recommits fidelity to the promotion of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law,” Arevalo said.

Meanwhile, the Department of National Defense (DND) echoed the AFPs’ views.

“The DND fully supports the passage of a law that will empower our defenders to protect our people against who wish to do them harm. It is the Defense Department’s position that a stronger measure against terrorism will enhance our defenders’ capacity to make our communities safer and more secured,” DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in a statement.

With a 19-2 vote on Wednesday, senators approved on third and final reading Senate Bill 1083 or the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

The measure seeks to repeal the Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007.

Meanwhile, Arevalo reiterated that the Philippines will be able to survive militarily without US support following the termination of the Visiting Forces of the Agreement (VFA) early this month.

“That question has been answered by AFP chief-of-staff General Felimon Santos Jr. It bears repeating: We can survive; we will; we should. The die is cast,” Arevalo said.

He noted that the 180-day period before the lapse of the VFA began when US counterparts have received the notice of its termination last February 12.

“We—soldiers, airmen, sailors, and Marines—are toeing the line of the Commander-in-Chief and President Rodrigo Duterte towards self-reliance. We struggled but survived the period 1991-1998 when the MBA (Military Bases Agreement) was no longer renewed until the VFA was signed,” he added.

“We will secure our people and defend our country with the relatively and modestly modern AFP we have now,” he added.

On the suggestions by some sectors that the AFP Modernization be increased to make up for the VFA cancelation, Arevalo refused to comment on the matter. (iam/

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