Philippines

Lacson calls report ‘malicious,’ but journalist says she tried to contact him

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Panfilo Lacson slammed a blog post by veteran journalist Raissa Robles which tackled a so-called hasty insertion of a provision in anti-terror law, calling it “malicious.”

“A blog post by Raissa Robles insinuating that I stealthily inserted Section 25 into Republic Act 11479 — the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 — is malicious and untrue, to say the least,” Lacson said in a statement.

The blog post, which was published on the same day the anti-terror law was signed, states that Section 25 of the anti-terror bill was not proposed by other senators who filed the same measure at the 18th Congress which was approved by the Senate in February this year.

Robles wrote: “This means it was never debated on during the period of interpellation on the measure by senators.”

Section 25, Robles said, would allow the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to freeze assets of terrorist groups and terrorists.

Lacson, meanwhile, said Section 25 was based on a proposal from the AMLC that “Republic Act 10168 — the Terrorist Financing Suppression and Prevention Act of 2012 — lacks the required designation mechanism that will allow authorities to prevent the assets and property from being used to finance terrorism.”

Lacson denied that he “stealthily” inserted the provision as it was part of the substitute bill approved during a period of amendments.

After the amendment on Feb. 12, Lacson said opposition Senators Francis Pangilinan and Franklin Drilon introduced substantial amendments to the substitute bill.

In an interview at AM radio station DWIZ, the senator said he would not file a cyberlibel complaint against Robles, saying he would just demand the journalist to correct her report.

“I hope she rectifies it because what she wrote is wrong. If she does not want to rectify it, that’s up to her conscience,” Lacson said in Filipino.

For her part, Robles said she repeatedly tried to get in touch with Lacson before posting the report on her website. She also denied that there was malice in her report.

“I also e-mailed Sen. Ping Lacson. And posted a letter on his website. He did not answer. So senator, please do not use the word MALICE. Bec that element is simply not there,” she penned on Twitter.

In another tweet, Robles revealed that Lacson allegedly blocked her, making it hard for her to contact him.

“I did all I could to reach out to Sen. Ping Lacson before I wrote this blog post. So he cannot say I did this with malice. He has blocked me too on his mobile phone, it seems. Or maybe he changed his number. I could repost on Twitter his mobile phone if challenged,” she wrote.

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