Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday concurred with a lawmaker’s observation that the suspected Indonesian suicide bomber who was recently arrested in Sulu may be a “potential test case” for the newly signed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
“I agree (with Senator Panfilo Lacson),” Guevarra said in a message to reporters, referring to Lacson’s remarks that bombs and other items seized from Nana Isirani a.k.a. Rezky Fantasya Rullie or “Cici” indicated that she was preparing to take part in a terrorist attack.
On Tuesday, Lacson said the act of the Indonesian suspect is a clear example of an “inchoate offense” which is punishable under the law.
“By including inchoate offenses as punishable acts under the new measure, we are criminalizing the foregoing acts of the arrested suspects which include planning, preparation, and facilitation of terrorism and possession of objects with knowledge or intent that these are to be used in the preparation for the commission of terrorism,” Lacson, who sponsored the anti-terrorism measure in the Senate, said in his speech before the Philippine Army Multi-Sector Advisory Board Summit.
He pointed out one of the new features in the Anti-Terrorism Law (Republic Act 11479) is the penalizing of inchoate offenses or preparatory acts that are deemed criminal even without the actual harm being done, provided that the attempt to harm is one that the law is trying to prevent, such as terrorism.
This new feature aims to prevent terrorism even before the actual commission of the violent terrorist act by making planning, preparing, and facilitating acts of terrorism as independent criminal acts already punishable by reclusion perpetua (up to 40 years imprisonment) without the benefit of parole.
Penalizing inchoate offenses is made pursuant to the mandate under United Nations Security Council Resolution No. 1373, which states that planning and preparation, among others, are established as serious criminal offenses in domestic laws and that the punishment should duly reflect the seriousness of such terrorist acts.
Isirani was arrested along with two other women believed to be wives of Abu Sayyaf members in Jolo, Sulu on Oct. 10. They yielded an improvised explosive device disguised as a vest, container pipes, and a nine-volt battery.
She is reportedly the eldest daughter of the Indonesian couple Rullie Rian Zeke and his wife Ulfah Handayani who were behind the Jolo Cathedral bomb attack in January 2019 which claimed 23 lives. Her husband Andi Baso aka “Zikri” is said to be behind similar attacks on churches in other countries.
Guevarra, meanwhile, said he does not expect new or supplemental petitions to be filed questioning the law’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR) and clarified the rules do not amend or expand the law itself in any way.
“If the law falls (in the petitions before the Supreme Court), the IRR automatically falls (as there will be) no leg to stand on,” Guevarra said. (PNA)