Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez surprises internet with convincing arguments in support of anti-terror bill

While Congresswoman Lucy Torres-Gomez has quite a following because of her ageless beauty, not too many people know that she is not just aesthetics after all.

In the FB post that has already gone viral, Rep. Torres-Gomez surprises quite a number of netizens by arguing in favor of the anti-terror bill in convincing fashion.

But before that, Rep. Torres-Gomez cited a recent terror act to give netizens an idea why the anti-terror bill is important in preventing a repeat of that tragic chapter of our country’s history.

“There are many stories that I can share with you about terrorism in our country but for now let me highlight just one.

On January 27, 2019, the Abu Sayyaf and the Islamic State (IS) groups claimed responsibility for the double-bombing of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Jolo, Mindanao. Twenty people died, 120 were injured. The attack was carried out in the morning of a beautiful Sunday, when the faithful gathered for worship as usual.”

Rep. Torres-Gomez said it was not failure of intelligence but our law was inadequate to stop the foreign terrorist from carrying out their plan.

“It wasn’t that there was no intelligence gathered on the arrival of these Indonesian terrorists in Jolo, as a matter of fact they were red-flagged the moment they reached immigration. And the sad truth is, that bombing could have been prevented if only the Human Security Act (HSA) of 2007 provided for the arrest of foreign nationals suspected of terrorism.”

In this light, Rep. Torres-Gomez remarked that prudence tells us to review the Human Security Act and understands its shortcomings, hence a new law to repeal it was deemed necessary.

“It would be wise to review the Human Security Act of 2007 to understand its significant shortcomings, such that a new law to repeal it was deemed necessary. The most glaring is that the HSA is not equipped to help us PREVENT a terrorist act from being undertaken. After 13 years in effect, only one person actually got convicted, in connection to the Marawi Siege. The three co-conspirators were acquitted. Most cases involving terrorists were tried using the Revised Penal Code, a law that is predisposed to penalizing acts already committed. Hence, we have no legal arsenal to stop terrorist plotters before they inflict widespread death and destruction. Furthermore, the HSA has no provision intended for foreign terrorists.”

Re. Torres-Gomez argued that without a credible anti-terror law is akin to giving the terrorist a free pass, telling them we are just going to watch their acts of terror unfold first before we can arrest them.

“Our country’s inability to arrest and prosecute suspected terrorists, keeps law enforcement’s hands tied until a terrorist event occurs. It’s like giving the terrorists a free pass, telling them that we are just going to watch their acts of terror unfold first, and then we get our cue to run after them. The terrorists are literally having “more fun in the Philippines,” because our laws allow it so. This makes us a very conducive venue to undertake, plan and prepare for terrorist activities.”

Rep. Torres-Gomez called the Philippines anti-terrorism law in Southeast Asia, hence PH has been a haven for ISIS recruitment as early as 2016.

“It is not a secret that the Philippines has been a haven for ISIS recruitment as early as 2016. Terrorism is a regional activity, and in the whole SEA region our anti-terrorism laws are the most lenient. They all come here because it is easy for them to not only stay, but also thrive and increase in number.”

Moving forward, Rep. Torres-Gomez noted that strong opposition against the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 or HB 6875 hence, she urges critics to read the bill first before opening their mouths.

“This past week, we have seen strong opposition against HB 6875 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. I urge you all to read the bill first-hand and not rely on second-hand opinions of others, who may have been influenced by those who twisted the interpretation of actual sections of the bill to suit their accusations. In the slides that follow you will read excerpts from the actual bill. There are many questions, but I will focus on two that seems to disturb many, from their perspectives.”

Rep. Torres-Gomez went on to dispel two of the most common misconceptions about the anti-terror bill. First, Torres-Gomez explained who is defined as terrorist in the said law. She assured that regular protesters fighting for whatever causes they are passionate about cannot be arrested based on the anti-terror bill.

“First, who is a terrorist? Can one be easily tagged (designated) and as such, arrested?

Contrary to popular belief now, one cannot be easily called or “designated” a terrorist. This law is not meant to arrest regular protestors fighting for causes they believe in. This law is meant to prevent fatal and disastrous terrorist events from happening.

So many of those who oppose the bill also say it quells freedom of expression, a basic human right. For those who are worried about opposing the president, or expressing dissent against the government or any of its officials for that matter, kindly review Articles 138, 139 and 142 of the Revised Penal Code. You will find that these are existing laws on inciting rebellion and sedition which are more incriminating than this Anti-terrorism bill.

Will this bill hinder you from attending rallies? It will not. And you also cannot be arrested for attending JUST ANY RALLY. First, you have to be the one making the speech. Second, your speech has to incite or encourage other people to commit acts that a) threaten to kill, harm people, b) extensively damage property, c) make or possess WMDs, d) damage or interfere with critical infrastructure, and e) release substances to cause fire or explosion to create public fear, emergency and destabilize the country.

It is misleading to take either just the intentions or just the actions and insist those to be the definition of a suspected terrorist. And if we all just understand that the intentions and actions that constitute terrorism are really GRAVE and DEVASTATING to our country, we will not let fear get in the way of apprehending and bringing REAL TERRORISTS to justice. This bill is intended to prevent another Marawi siege, another bombing of a public venue. And lest we make this all about ourselves and our fears of how we may be held accountable for what we say or do as we exercise our civil rights, think of our soldiers who are dismembered by terrorists, remember, too, the SAF 44, that we were all so outraged about.”

Second, Rep. Torres-Gomez assured the public that the police cannot just arrest anyone without probable cause and the ATC is there to give the go-signal whether the police can arrest suspected terrorist or terrorists.

“Second, the role of the ATC. The ATC is a nine-man council made up of cabinet members, tasked to implement the Anti-Terrorism Act by creating programs, investigating, and coordinating the prevention and fight against terrorism. Its most significant powers are (a) designation of a person or organization as suspected terrorist, and (b) authorizing warrantless arrest for 14-24 days, upon finding of “probable cause” of terrorist activities defined in this Act. Without these provisions, we have no way of apprehending terrorists BEFORE the attacks actually happen. Please take note, probable cause has to be established. It is explicitly stated.”

Rep. Torres-Gomez highlighted the glaring difference between the Human Security Act of 2007 versus the anti-terror bill.

“In comparison, the HSA of 2007, already allows unwarranted arrest but for only three days of detention without judicial authority and must result exclusively from court-ordered surveillance and financial investigation. This makes the HSA unresponsive to the realities of actual terrorist operations, which is covert and fast-paced. The Anti-terrorism bill facilitates timely action to prevent terrorist events.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Torres-Gomez addressed those who have reservations with the anti-terror bill by encouraging them to join her in calling the attention of the ATC (Anti-Terrorism Council) and the Department of Justice to establish “safeguards” against wrongful arrest and designation.

“For those with serious reservations, especially in the determination of ‘probable cause,’ we can address the Anti-Terrorism Council and the Department of Justice to establish ‘safeguards’ against wrongful arrest and designation. These bodies can put in place clear-cut, evidence-based procedures in determining “probable cause” in the bill’s Implementing Rules and Regulations, to be crafted 90 days after the bill’s approval.”

On criticism that the bill was ill-timed because of the pandemic, Rep. Gomez-Torres said that the pandemic will not deter the terrorist. In fact, this is the most vulnerable time for us, hence calling the anti-terror bill ill-timed is baseless.

“I agree that the timing could be better, in view of COVID-19. But on the flip side, know also that the pandemic will not deter terrorist plots. In fact, this is a vulnerable time for us. This bill has been languishing in Congress since 2016. This went through many hearings in the committee level, long before it reached plenary. Perhaps we can all agree that there is no better time than the present to protect our people from the threats of terrorism.”

Rep. Torres-Gomez ended the FB post by appealing to the public not to lump up activist, critics and bashers in the same category with terrorist because they are not. Doing so is dishonest and grave injustice. In addition, she appealed to critics not to reduce the argument as simple choice between human rights in one corner and terrorism in the other end.

“In International Law, terrorism is the highest crime against humanity. Let us read the bill with the right target in mind. It is dishonest and a grave injustice to dilute its strength and purpose by putting activists, critics, and bashers in the same category as terrorists. This bill was made to stop terrorists, not to make life inconvenient and uncomfortable for activists and those who voice out dissent. Let us not reduce the argument as a simple choice between human rights in one corner, and terrorism in the other. Because terrorists have no regard for human life or rights, their intent and actions so brutal and evil they can never even be mistaken as activists.”

As of this writing, Lucy Torres-Gomez’s FB post has generated 7,300+ shares, 8,900+ reactions and 900+ comments.

One netizen thanked Rep. Torres-Gomez for her enlightening post on the anti-terror bill. “Thank you so much Congressman Lucy Gomez for bringing light in a very clear explanation about this bill who so many have twisted out of personal agenda. I am from Mindanao, I may have not seen and experience actual terrorism, but the ripples of fear brought into the land is a far cry of help of justice and bill like this. May all who perceive this bill otherwise from its purpose and intention be able to truly comprehend that this is for our own protection from the harm of evil and heartless terrorists”

Another netizen praised Torres-Gomez for the clear explanation on the controversial bill. “Thank you so much Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez for your clear, straight forward, intelligent, and untainted explanation.

I hope Filipinos (including halflings beauty queens who pose to represent pro-human rights advocacies, etc.) will accept your challenge to READ the BILL before opening their mouths to protest.

Catriona, this is what I call research… what exactly did you do except post an IG story about your personal sentiment … remember: REVISE is NOT the same as JUNK. Learn from the brainy and realistically beautiful Lucy!

#ISupportAnti-TerrorismBill”

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