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Philippines lawmakers approve terrorism funding law

The Philippine Congress on Wednesday approved the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012 [text, PDF] that criminalize the financing of terrorism. The bill penalizes an individual who organizes or directs the commission of the crime of financing terrorism with imprisonment of 40 years and a fine of not less than five hundred thousand pesos (USD $11,570.92) but not more than one million pesos ($23,141.85). The bill is expected to be presented to President Benigno Aquino III [official website] for signature upon which it becomes law. Even those who finance a failed terrorist attack may face the same punishment, but the bill's authority to penalize is limited to those who support terrorist groups that are blacklisted by the Philippine government and the international community. The bill authorizes the country's Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), either on its own or at request of Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC), to investigate properties and funds of suspected persons as well as to enlist the assistance of various governmental entities in order to counter terrorism financing. The Philippines has had problems [PhilStar report] with a terrorist group, Abu Sayyaf [CFR backgrounder], that is reported to be linked with al Qaeda [CFR backgrounder].

Other Philippines anti-terrorism laws have recently come under scrutiny. The constitutionality of the Human Security Act (HSA) [text, PDF] which authorizes the 72-hour detention of suspects without charge and allows for surveillance, wiretapping and seizure of assets was upheld [JURIST report] by the Supreme Court of the Philippines [official website] in October of last year. Two months earlier, Aquino urged [JURIST report] lawmakers to make the law more available for authorities to utilize. It was heavily criticized when it first went in effect [JURIST report] in 2007.

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