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Government freezes accounts of 16 Islamic extremist groups

THE PHILIPPINE government has ordered a freeze on the bank accounts and assets of at least 16 international Islamic extremist groups it had identified as terrorists.

Covered by the Dec. 23 freeze order issued by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) were the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria and Southeast Asia; Dawlatul Islamiyah Waliyatul Masrik; Dawlatul Islamiyyah Waliyatul Mashriq; and IS East Asia Division.

Also frozen were the assets of the local Maute Group, Islamic State East Asia, Maute ISIS, Grupong ISIS, Grupo ISIS, Khilafah Islamiyah, Khilafah Islamiyah Mindanao and Ansharul Khilafah.

The regulator also ordered a freeze on the assets of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters-Bungo, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters-Abubakar, Jama’atu al-Muhajirin wal Ansar fil Filibin and Daulah Islamiyah, along with other Daesh-affiliated groups in the country.

The freezer order was based on a terror list released by the Anti-Terrorism Council.

In a separate resolution, the AMLC also issued a sanction freeze order on related bank accounts and assets of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).

The documents were published on its website on Monday.

Covered by the freeze are property or funds fully or jointly owned or controlled by the groups, those that can be tied to a suspected terrorist act or threat, those generated from other assets they own directly or indirectly, and those controled by persons or entities acting on their behalf.

“All covered persons and institutions are mandated to submit as suspicious transaction reports all previous transactions of the herein designated persons, organizations, associations or groups of persons within five days from receipt of this sanctions freeze order,” according to the order.

The rules enforcing the country’s newly expanded Anti-Terrorism law gave the AMLC the power to freeze the assets of people and groups

The law, which took effect on July 18, considers attacks that cause death or serious injury, extensive damage to property and manufacture, possession, acquisition, transport and supply of weapons or explosives as terrorist acts.

It also allows the government to detain a suspect without a warrant for 14 days from three days previously.

More than 30 lawsuits have been filed asking the Supreme Court to void the anti-terror law, which the plaintiffs said arms the state to stifle dissent and violate human rights.

They said the right to freedom of speech and of expression, the right against warrantless arrest, due process, bail and presumption of innocence were in imminent danger of being transgressed by the vague and overbroad provisions of the law. 

They also questioned the validity of the rules, which provide that advocacy, protest, dissent and similar actions are considered “acts of terrorism” if they were “intended to cause death or serious physical harm to a person, to endanger a person’s life, or to create a serious risk to public safety.”

The plaintiffs said people or groups may suffer injury if they are classified by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) as terrorists. — Beatrice M. Laforga

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