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Angara: Block terrorist financing

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Senator Edgardo Angara reiterated on Sunday the need for legislation that effectively addresses terror threats following UK-based analyst Maplecroft's release of the Terrorism Risk Index, which ranks the Philippines 13th among 198 countries, or at “extreme risk” of terrorist attacks.

Angara underscored the importance of laws that strike at the heart of terrorist activities.

“Terrorists are heavily dependent on funding. To obstruct their movement and activities, we must be able to block their access to funding,” said the veteran lawmaker.

“Too much of our efforts are focused on catching those who have committed crimes when we would be able to provide better security if we thwart terrorists' plans before they even happen,” he said.

Earlier this year, Angara filed Senate Bill No. 2676, or the Terrorist Financial Suppression Act of 2011, which seeks to criminalize the act of financing terrorism as an independent offense.

“Through this, the government will be able to take precautionary measures like having suspect accounts, particularly of terrorist financiers, shut down, preventing them from concealing or destroying incriminating evidence,” he said.

“We can penalize the financiers without waiting for an actual terrorist attack to take place,” he said.

The Terrorist Financial Suppression Bill, which is currently pending in the Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies, grants authority to investigators to look into suspicious bank accounts even without a court order, and the power to freeze said account immediately as a pre-emptive move against possible terrorist acts.

“It is indeed very alarming to be ranked so high in the Terrorism Risk Index,” said Angara. “We must strive to change that and improve physical security in the country to boost investor confidence.”

Maplecroft named Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and the new nation South Sudan as the five countries at greatest risk of terror, based on the April 2010 to March 2011 reporting period. (Jelly F. Musico-PNA)




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