All Set For Anti-Terror Summit In Southern Philippines

July 9, 2007 at 11:59 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 09 Jul) – Security is tight Monday in Cagayan de Oro City where President Gloria Arroyo is to speak on an anti-terrorism summit.

Arroyo would also meet with her Cabinet security cluster in the first leg of public consultations on the Human Security Act (HSA) which is set to take effect on July 15.

Senior Supt. Aurelio Trampe Jr., chief of the local police force, said he placed the entire city on heightened security alert because of the summit at the Pryce Plaza here. “Additional personnel will be deployed in crowded places in the entire city,” said Trampe. “We provided 2nd and 3rd layer security to President Arroyo today.”

The summit is expected to draw leaders and experts in the security field from the government, business, religious and the academe, according to Trampe. But militant groups and political activists have threatened to stage mass actions to protest the anti-terrorism law.

They said the HAS would be used by the government to silence progressive groups and politicians opposed to Arroyo’s rule. Beverly Musni, head of the human rights group, Karapatan, said militants and activists would immediately be arrested once the HSA took effect.

But Norberto Gonzales, National Security Adviser and acting Defense chief, said the HSA had enough safeguards to prevent its abuse.

“There is nothing to fear really. The law is there to protect the public, not to harm them,” he said, adding people must commit a terrorist act before they can be arrested.

Gonzales, who is also the Partido Demokratiko Sosyalista ng Pilipinas (PDSP) consultant, also said the anti-terror law is all set for implementation but admitted that its organizational structure is still being finalized.

“We’ve already complied with most of the requirements but I’m not sure how complete our organization is because we have to identify members of the office that would implement it,” he said.

Trampe said they expect militant groups to hold protest actions but this would not hinder the consultation. “We are prepared with our civil disturbance management team in case there will be street rallies,” Trampe said.

City Mayor Constantino Jaraula said Arroyo would arrive later in the day.

According to a government handout, the summit aims to identify problems and difficulties faced in fighting terrorists from the perspectives of the stakeholders and to agree on an action agenda to strengthen local mechanisms for counter-terrorism. (Ben Balce)

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