Abus declared terrorists
A BASILAN court has officially declared the Abu Sayyaf Group a terrorist group, adding teeth to the prosecution of members and supporters who will be arrested in the future, the Department of Justice announced on Friday.
“The proscription against the Abu Sayyaf as a terrorist organization which was granted by the regional trial court of Isabela City, Basilan only formalizes the long standing position of the government that the group is nothing more than a terrorist organization,” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said, in a statement.
De Lima pointed out that the RTC ruling would boost government’s effort to combat the ASG and capture all its members as it “adds to the government’s legal arsenal in its fight against terrorism in the Philippines.”
“The proscription will facilitate prosecution not only of members of the group but also of supporters and financiers of the organization under the Human Security Act and the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act,” she said.
De Lima disclosed that it was the DoJ that filed a petition before the RTC that led to the ruling.
In a 19-page resolution released by the DoJ yesterday, Isabela City RTC Branch 9 Judge Danilo Bucoy cited the “essential elements” to declare someone or a group as a terrorist under RA 9370, or the Human Security Act of 2007.
The court said the preamble of the ASG’s Charter showed that the group is “resolute and determined to use whatever means, including terrorism, if only to achieve its purpose, that is, to supplant the existing form of government with their own version of an Islamic State.”
The RTC said though the word “terrorism” is not stated in the preamble, its concept and essence were “all over it and are, therefore, deemed written into it.”
The court also gave weight to documents and testimonies from four witnesses that showed the ASG used acts to terrorize and sow a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace.
“These witnesses have passed the court’s careful and intense scrutiny regarding their demeanor, attitude and mannerism on the witness stand. The court find them credible,” the court decision stated.
“In fact, these witnesses deserve praise and commendation for their courage and audacity to stand against this violent, treacherous and vicious organization,” it said.
The court said the ASG was also guilty of coercing the government to comply with their unlawful demands or else they would kill their victims. Among these demands are ransom or the pull out of troops from areas of ASG’s operations.
“Wherefore, in view of all the foregoing... and after due notice and hearing, the organizations commonly known as the Abu Sayyaf Group and/or Al-Harakatul Al-Islamiyya is hereby declared a terrorist organization,” the lower court declared.