Quote for the Week..

"Why are the country’s political leaders quick to act on amending the Constitution to change nationalistic provisions for the benefit of foreigners or to extend their terms of office but are allergic to amending the Constitution to address the people’s aspirations for self-determination?" - Marvic Leonen,Dean of the UP College of Law, in a keynote address delivered at the 1st International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao; March 16-18, 2009 in Davao City, Philippines.


Saturday, May 3, 2008

Corruption, low pay hinder RP fight vs terrorism--US report

Corruption, limited resources and low salaries of security forces are just some of the problems plaguing Philippine law enforcement efforts to bring terrorists to justice.

These were some of the findings contained in a US State Department Country Report on terrorism for the East Asia and Pacific Region released Wednesday.

The report concluded that the Jemaah Islamiyah regional terrorist network (JI), which has ties to Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network, remains a serious threat to Western and regional interests, particularly in Indonesia and the southern Philippines.

“Limited financial resources, inadequate salaries, corruption, low morale, limited cooperation between police and prosecutors, and other problems in law enforcement have hampered bringing terrorists to justice,” the report said.

Rumors were rife that personal profit was responsible for the escape of JI top bomber Fathr Rohman Al-Ghozi from the heavily guarded headquarters of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Camp Crame, Quezon City in 2003. Three months later Al-Ghozi died in a gun battle with security forces in Mindanao

Also, the alleged connivance between the ASG and the military, exemplified by the ease with which Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members escaped from a surrounded hospital compound in Lamitan, Basilan in 2001, has yet to be resolved.

No one has been prosecuted for the two events.

Nonetheless, the US State Department also noted the confirmation of the death of ASG leaders Khaddafy Janjalani at the hands of the Armed Forces of the Philippines were important accomplishments of Philippine authorities. This year they captured and arrested 38 ASG members and killed 127.

Together with the successes by the Indonesian National Police (INP) in breaking up JI cells in Sulawesi and Central Java, the two countries struck “major blows to JI and the ASG,” the report said.

However, the report noted that the two accomplishments did little to “eliminate the overall threat to United States interests in the region.” JI bombers Dulmatin and Umar Patek are still on the run in the southern Philippines while other key terrorists like key JI operative Noordin Mohammad Top are still on the loose, the report said.

The US has conducted serious efforts to upgrade the capability of the Philippine security forces, the report continued. Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and US prosecutors provided training to 34 representatives of the Philippine Anti-Terrorism Council in December. The training was focused on the use of electronic surveillance that could be used to file legal actions against terrorists under the country’s Human Security Act (HSA).

But the report also said the HSA was too strict to be used effectively in actual cases.

“The passage of the Human Security Act (HSA) was a major step forward in the modernization of Philippine law enforcement tools for use against terrorists. It permits wiretapping of members of judicially designated terrorist organizations and financial investigations of individuals connected to terrorist organizations. Tight restrictions in the law, however, have prevented it from being used in actual cases,” the report said.

The State Department also said border control remained problematic for an archipelago like the Philippines. Guarding Philippine islands against the entry of terrorists was difficult, making the borders “accessible for such terrorist activities as movement of personnel, equipment, and funds.”

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs began issuing digitized, machine-readable passports in June, the report said. But tampering or altering travel documents carried low penalties, the State Department said. ”In addition, law enforcement officials were reluctant to investigate or charge vendors or users of false documents when the Philippine government was not the issuing authority.”

The agency also noted the effective use of the rewards system by US and Philippines authorities. The US Department of State paid $5 million in June through its Rewards for Justice Program to informants who provided information that led to the killings of ASG leaders Khadaffy Janjalani and Jainal Sali a.k.a Abu Solaiman.

In sum, the United States paid out $10,302,500 for information leading to the arrest or killing of 13 ASG members.

The American Embassy, according to the report, received excellent cooperation from Philippine law enforcement officials in obtaining access to terrorist detainees and witnesses for FBI interviews, and access to criminal, immigration, financial, and biographic records via the mechanisms established in the US-Philippine Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.(Alcuin Papa, INQ.net)

No comments: