SEC. 17. Proscription of Terrorist Organizations, Association, or Group of Persons. – Any organization, association, or group of persons organized for the purpose of engaging in terrorism, or which, although not organized for that purpose, actually uses the acts to terrorize mentioned in this Act or to sow and create a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace in order to coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand shall, upon application of the Department of Justice before a competent Regional Trial Court, with due notice and opportunity to be heard given to the organization, association, or group of persons concerned, be declared as a terrorist and outlawed organization, association, or group of persons by the said Regional Trial Court.
My first impression was that this might be a superfluous procedure, because if the DOJ has evidence that an organization is a terrorist organization, it might as well sue the members for committing the crime of Conspiracy to Commit Terrorism. Yet, upon closer examination, it appears to be a way to shortcut the process of convicting actual terrorists. Once an organization is declared a terrorist, then all members will be deemed guilty of the crime of Conspiracy to Commit Terrorism, and all the police has to do is prove people's membership in the terrorist organization.
The question is how will a judge distinguish among members, affiliates, supporters, sympathizers, friends, relatives, and neighbors of the terrorist organization, or among the supporters, sympathizers, friends, relatives, neighbors of the members of the terrorist organization, or friends of the supporters of the members of the terrorist organization? It seems to me the DOJ will all have them bunched as one group of terrorists to be sued and jailed. It is a potential tool for witch-hunting. There is a danger for people to be declared as terrorists by association regardless of the degree of association. This is so because in a conspiracy the doctrine is "the act of one is the act of all." Thus, for so long as a person's association with a judicially declared terrorist organization is proven, he will be guilty of Conspiracy to Commit Terrorism and punished as such. If the National Democratic Front, for example, is declared as a terrorist organization, even Joma Sison's dance instructor could be jailed for Conspiracy to Commit Terrorism.
(To be continued)