General & Misc

Anti-False Bomb Threat Bill hurdles Second Reading

Date: 26 February 2019; Type: Legal News; Source: House of Representatives

Beware bomb pranksters. The House of Representatives approved on second reading House Bill 9059 seeking to prohibit and penalize the dissemination of false information on bomb threats, explosives, or any other life-threatening or destructive materials.

The proposed "Anti-False Bomb Threat Act" is principally authored by Reps. Romero Quimbo (2nd District, Marikina City), Romeo Acop (2nd District, Antipolo City), Erlpe John Amante, (2nd District, Agusan del Norte), Michelle Antonio (Party-list, AGBIAG), Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado (1st Distrct, Bulacan), and Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr. (2nd District, Camarines Sur). It seeks to ensure public protection from the dissemination of false information on bomb threats, explosives, or any life-threatening or destructive materials which cause damaging effects to life and property.

Under the bill, life threatening or destructive materials refer to any matter or substance that is capable of causing death, including: 1) an explosive; 2) incendiary device; 3) poison gas; 4) mine; 5) grenade; 6) a rocket having a propellant charge of more than four ounces; 7) a missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than one-quarter ounce; 8) any type of weapon, other than a shotgun or shotgun shell, by whatever name known, which will or which may be readily converted, to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive or other propellant, and which has any barrel with a bore of more than one-half diameter; or 9) any combination of parts either designed or intended for use in converting any device into a destructive device described above and from which a destructive device may be readily assembled.

The measure prohibits any person, who by word of mouth or through the use of the mail, electronic mail, telephone, cellular phone, fax machine, telegraph, printed materials, social media and other instrument or means of communication, makes any threat or conveys, communicates, transmits, imparts, passes on, or otherwise disseminates false information, knowing the information to be false, concerning an attempt or an alleged attempt being made to kill, injure, or intimidate any individual or group or to unlawfully damage or destroy any building, vehicle, or other real or personal property, by means of explosives, incendiary devices, and other destructive forces of similar nature of characteristics.

Any person who violates the Act shall be penalized with imprisonment of not more than one year or a fine not exceeding P50,000, or both, at the discretion of the court having jurisdiction over the offense defined and penalized.

If the violation of the Act is directed at high density or sensitive areas and causes the evacuation of a dwelling, building, place of assembly, facility, including public transportation, aircraft, ship and other common carriers, or the stoppage, cancellation or disruption of any kind of service to the public, or results in death or deaths in relation to the chaos created therein, or losses in productivity and resources, the penalty shall be imprisonment of not more than five years or a fine not exceeding P1 million, or both, at the discretion of the court having jurisdiction over the offense herein defined and penalized.

The foregoing penalties shall be imposed without prejudice to other liabilities under the Revised Penal Code or any special law, arising out of, or on occasion of the herein prohibited act.

Lastly, the bill seeks to repeal Presidential Decree No. 1727, otherwise known as “An Act Declaring as Unlawful the Malicious Dissemination of False Information of the Willful Making of Any Threat Concerning Bombs, Explosives or Any Similar Device or Means of Destruction and Imposing Penalties Therefor.” All other laws, executive orders, proclamations, rules and regulations, or parts thereof inconsistent with or contrary to the Act shall hereby be repealed or modified accordingly.

Quimbo said recent and other previous bomb scares that threatened various places around the country, demonstrate the need to address the growing concern on bomb threats.

“Every false bomb threat which alarms an area leads to unnecessary anxiety for the people, disruption of regular activities, economic costs from the opportunity lost for productivity due to evacuation activities, waste of law enforcement and emergency response resources as well as time spent which should have been used for more pressing public concerns, among others,” said Quimbo.

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