Mere possession of terror propaganda materials included in proposed law

LAWMAKERS want to expand the two proposed anti-terror ordinances to include the mere possession of propaganda material.

Councilor Bernard Al-ag said the committee on laws, privileges and ordinances, which he chairs, pushed for the amendment as they will present the measure to the City Council next week for deliberation and apparent approval.

During the committee hearing, it was agreed to include the word “possession” instead of having only the phrase “manufacture and distribution of propaganda material.”

The proposed anti-ISIS ordinance covers the prohibition of the following acts:

membership of ISIS or allied local terrorist groups;

recruiting another person to membership in the ISIS or to its allied local terrorist groups whether that person is recognized or not by the ISIS leadership;

adhering to and professing express support to the ISIS or its allied local terrorist groups;

manufacturing, distributing, and possessing any reading material, propaganda, paraphernalia such as flag, clothing, sticker that are related to ISIS or its allies; and

failing to report ISIS-related activities to the authorities.

If approved, violators will be fined P5,000 and/or will serve one-year imprisonment.

In the second proposed ordinance initially aims to punish the act of leaving suspicious unmarked bags.

But the committee now amended it to “the act of leaving suspicious unmarked and unattended bags.”

Davao City Policy director Alexander Tagum pushed for the amendment as “criminal elements might opt to mark or name their bags” so they could escape liability.

It was also agreed in the committee hearing to give the specified and concrete definition of “public places” in the ordinance, as this should include airports, seaports, malls, parks, hotels, community centers, roads, streets, sidewalks, and all other public places defined by the law.

Councilor Nilo Abellera Jr., who chairs the committee for peace and public safety, said the passage of the ordinance will lessen the reports on unattended bags.

“Maiiwasan ang loko-lokong iwan ng bags,” he said.

It was also found during the committee hearing that Task Force Davao, DCPO, and the Central 911 have responded to more than 100 calls since September last year from the concerned public reporting about suspicious baggages.

Councilor Al-ag said the unmarked bags left in public places is a common problem that many cities in the country experienced.

“It causes a lot of disturbances in the community,” he said.

TFD commander Erwin Neri said the crafting of the ordinances is a welcome development on their end as they are mandated to secure the city against terrorism.

“The ordinances are timely and relevant to prevent terrorism and to lessen false alarms on the public,” he said.

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