Human Rights Group Hails Catholic Bishops Stand On RP Anti-Terror Law

July 10, 2007 at 12:57 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 10 Jul) – A human rights group on Tuesday praised the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) after it called for a review of the Human Security Act (HSA) of 2007, or the anti-terrorism law, citing apprehension among lawyers and other sectors.

The militant group and the CBCP even condemned the soon-to-be-implemented Act as “even worse than PP1017, CPR and EO464.” “We welcome the timely objection of the CBCP to the HSA implementation on July 15,” said Karapatan regional head Beberly Musni.

The CBCP expressed concern over the “morality dimension” of the law which is set for implementation on July 15. Earlier, the militants urged the CBCP to issue statements condemning the implementation of the said Anti-Terror law.

“We hope the other faiths and sectors will follow suit,” said Musni adding people should expressed on the widest and strongest condemnation to the HSA.

Musni said, like the opposition of the multi-sectors on Charter Change will compel the GMA regime to abandon the HSA.

“This is like impact on the peoples’ freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and in right to liberty and privacy,” she said. Last year, the Supreme Court declared Executive Order 464 and Presidential Proclamation1017 as “unconstitutional and partly unconstitutional.”

“Our outrage over the attempted charter change should be again being expressed on the HSA,” said Musni. Musni also urged the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, headed by Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, to support the CBCP stand. President Gloria Arroyo said the HSA will take effect on July 15.

“The new law could be used to abuse the rights of government critics,” said Musni. Musni claimed that it is ironic that instead of making the people feel secure, the law would most likely cause chaos and insecurity.

The CBCP called for the suspension of the implementation of HSA. “Since we, as pastors, have to look more into the morality of this law and make a pronouncement in that level,” said in a CBCP’s statement however, reiterated their pursuit for peace as well as condemnation of terrorist acts.

On Monday, acting Defense Secy. Norberto Gonzales maintained that the public has no reason to fear the HAS. “If you are not planning anything illegal then the law is for the protection of human rights and not for its (human rights) violation,” he said.

Arroyo was in Cagayan de Oro City on Monday where she spoke at the Mindanao Peace and Security Summit.

Cagayan de Oro Mayor Constantino Jaraula said the country needs the new law to address the threat of terrorism.

Gonzales said the government is seriously considering tagging the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army as terrorist organizations. The United States and European Union also listed the CPP and NPA as foreign terrorist organizations on Manila’s prodding.

Arroyo initiated the summit through the National Security Council (NSC) and was attended by multi-sector groups in Mindanao, local government officials, the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Armed Forces of Philippines (AFP), ulamas, priests and even representatives of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), members of the academe and the President’s Cabinet who hold positions in the security cluster committee.

Arroyo has defined the government’s target in the next three years, which is for the AFP to give strategic defeat to insurgency and other rebel groups, modernize the military, advance the protection of human rights, a sustainable peace in Mindanao and expand alliances for regional and global security.

She also signed Executive Order 546, stating the important role of local officials in preparing internal security plans in their localities and the making of PNP as co-equal partner in the effort of combating insurgencies and terrorism in the country.

Peace initiatives and development are also starting to pour in with the optimism of foreign donors supportive of the government peace initiatives in Mindanao. (With a report from Ben Balce)

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