AS THE threat of terrorism continues even amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, the Philippine Department of Justice and its counterpart in the United States (US) collaborated on fighting terrorism through a virtual workshop.
A total of 17 prosecutors from Davao Region, led by Regional Prosecutor Janet Grace B. Dalisay-Fabrero joined other prosecutors all over the Philippines in a virtual workshop on counter-terrorism hosted by the US Department of Justice’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance, and Training (DOJ-Opdat) in the Philippines on May 11.
“The (terrorism) threat is always imminent because of the recent attacks of Abu Sayyaf last April in Sulu part of Mindanao. This confirms the continuity of terroristic activities in Mindanao despite the pandemic. In fact, they can take advantage of this condition to pursue their ends,” Dalisay-Fabrero said in an online interview with SunStar Davao.
In his opening remarks, US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim stated that “terrorists view a global crisis as an opportunity, so public officials must be vigilant against this threat, even in the midst of a public health crisis.”
He also said that he is “confident that the initiatives like this workshop will continue to strengthen our shared fight against terrorism.”
The virtual workshop aims to increase bilateral collaboration and coordination on terrorism investigations, prosecutions, and strengthen working relationships among prosecutors during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is part of DOJ-Opdat’s ongoing program series, including conferences, trainings, workshops, and other activities focused on strengthening ties between US and Philippine law enforcement officials working on terrorism cases.
Dalisay-Fabrero said even the differences in the two country’s geological, cultural, and even political settings, the virtual workshop on counterterrorism is significant as there are ways that the world share in fight against terrorism.
“Matters like evidence gathering, chain of custody, and use of forensic investigation are universally observed. These techniques and approaches would help both law enforcers and prosecutors in case build-up and prosecution of terrorism-related cases,” she said.
Prosecutor-General of the DOJ-National Prosecution Service Benedicto Malcontento appreciated the collaboration of the two countries in the fight against terrorism.
He said that whatever learning the prosecutors shall gain from the workshop will be helpful, especially in the role of the DOJ as member of the Joint National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
During the activity, officials from the US-DOJ and a Philippine judge shared with the participants their expertise and knowledge on the effective investigation and prosecutions of terrorism cases.
Discussion topics included police-prosecutor cooperation, proper handling of explosives and other battlefield evidence, training police and military on chain of custody issues, and the use of digital evidence.
The workshop also featured a panel discussion on counterterrorism investigations with an Assistant US Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Philippine experts. (with PR)