Fear Grips Militant Groups As Manila Prepares To Impose Anti-Terror Law

July 12, 2007 at 11:11 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 12 Jul) – Human rights advocate, Karapatan, urged the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) to put pressure on the government to stop implementing the Human Security Act of 2007, or the Anti-Terrorism Law.

Even a group of lawyers calling itself the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) questioned and bring the matter before the Supreme Court (SC). “UPLM and other civil libertarians will question the HSA before the SC,” said Beberly Musni, Karapatan’s regional head.

Musni said the HSA is another attempt of GMA and her allies of human rights violators to perpetuate state terror after her Presidential Proclamation 1017, Eexecutive Order 464 and CPR (Calibrated Preemptive Response) were thrashed by the Supreme Court for being unconstitutional.

“The Philippine Constitution expresses the ultimate well being envisioned by the Filipinos for the Filipinos,” said Musni.

Musni said HSA attacks humans well being by legitimizing warrant less arrests in indefinite detention, house arrests, restriction of travel, wiretapping, electronic surveillance, seizure of deposits in proscription of people’s organizations.

Musni said the UPLM has challenged the IBP and other lawyers’ groups to standby and defend the bill of rights. Karapatan earlier praised the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) for its stand on the Human Security Act of 2007.

The CBCP has urged the government to review 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” accordning to Musni “HAS is an attack of the constitutional guarantee and equal protection of the laws,” said Musni.

The opposition said the law could be abused and worst used against President Gloria Arroyo’s political opponents. Arroyo said the law will not be used against the public and legislators, specifically members of the opposition and civil society, who air their views in the spirit of democracy.

She said the HSA has enough built-in safeguards against violations of human rights such as warrant-less arrests, eavesdropping and wiretapping, illegal sequestration of properties and tracing of assets.

In enforcing the law, law enforcers should follow specific rules on the conduct on its enforcement by first securing a permit from the “assigned and designated” Court of Appeals officer, as well as an authorization by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) before they conduct surveillance on a suspected terrorist or terrorists.

Government spokesman have repeatedly appealed to the public to read and assimilate the provisions of the law so as not be carried away by doomsday warnings on perceived dangers of the anti-terror statute.

The HSA’s intent is to safeguard the security of the people, the government and the communities as a whole so that way of life of the people will be protected. (With a report from Ben Balce)

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