A DAY after two improvised explosive devices (IED) went off at a Catholic church in Jolo, Sulu, the House of Representatives tackles bills seeking to tighten measures against terrorism.

The House committees on public order and safety and on national defense and security held a technical working group discussion on House Bill No. 7141 and House Bill No. 5507 on Monday, January 28.

House Bill 7141 seeks the add to the definition of terrorism three predicate crimes such as RA 9208 or “Anti-Trafficking In Person Act of 2003, as amended; RA 9165 or the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002; and RA 10175 or “Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012”.

It also seeks to include in the present anti-terrorism law additional punishable acts such as proposal to commit terrorism, inciting to terrorism, recruitment to terrorism organization, providing material support to terrorists or terrorist organiztion, foreign terrorist fighter and glorification of terrorism.

HB 5507 seeks to make it unlawful for any person to knowingly become a member or manifest his intention to become a member of any Philippine court-proscribed or United Nations Security Council-designated terrorist organization.

Both bills are authored by Rep. Amado Espino, Jr., chairman of the committee on national defense and security.

While discussions were ongoing, the representatives of Gabriela Party-list led a protest outside the House of Representatives.

Representatives Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas said the government should not use the recent bombing in Jolo, Sulu as basis to amend the Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act (HSA) of 2007.

They said the proposed bill will legalize attacks against activists whom the Duterte government branded as “terrorists.”

“Napaka-lawak ng depinisyon ng terorismo sa panukala, na kahit ang paglulunsad ng demokratikong welga ay magiging kapantay ng ginawang pambobomba at papatawan ng life imprisonment,” De Jesus said.

“Sa ilalim ng rehimeng Duterte na tahasang binabansagan ang mga demokratikong organisasyon tulad ng Gabriela bilang terorista, walang ibang kahulugan ito kundi maramihang pag-aresto at pagkulong sa mga kritiko,” she added.

According to Brosas, once the bill amending the HSA is enacted, even a Facebook post against the government could mean supporting terrorism.

“Kahit ang simpleng pagshare ng Facebook post kaugnay ng pagpapabagsak sa gobyerno ay maaring ituring na pagsusog sa terorismo. Atake ito sa demokratikong pamamahayag ng mamamayan,” Brosas said.

The bombing of a Catholic church in Jolo, Sulu on Sunday, January 27 led to the death of at least 20 individuals, including six government troopers. (SunStar Philippines)