Monday, July 16, 2007

Terrorizing the terrorists?!

The "Human Security Act of 2007" (HSA) or Republic Act No. 9372 took effect 15th of July 2007. This piece of legislation is supposed to protect the people and the state from terrorists.

Unfortunately, it is not being embraced joyfully by the people it purports to protect. There are fears about the possibility of abuse and political persecution, as well as violation of basic human and constitutional rights.

FLAG President Atty. Diokno cites: Worse, the HSA is a dangerous law. It authorizes preventive detention,expands the power of warrantless arrest, and allows for unchecked invasion of our privacy, liberty and other basic rights. Persons merely suspected of engaging in terrorism may be arrested without warrant and detained without charges.

They may be placed under house arrest, prohibited from using their cell phones, computers and any other means of communication, even when they are granted bail on the ground that evidence of guilt is not strong. They may also be subjected to surveillance and wiretapping, as well as examination, sequestration and freezing of bank deposits and other assets, on mere suspicion that they are members of a "terrorist organization."

The polarity being presented at the moment is the choice between sustained human and political rights or imposing effective restraint to terrorists through the HSA. This will not be an easy predicament, particularly for Filipinos who vehemently fight any form of political repression while being all too familiar with terroristic atrocities.

This is compounded by a situation wherein the incumbent administration is trying to steer away from political controversies. Thus, the HSA aside from being an affront to human rights is also turning out to be a potent instrument for the preservation of the status quo. There is pervasive fear that these campaign against terrorism may just be an excuse for a campaign against political opponents of the present administration.

Ultimately, the issues surrounding the controversial law must be settled in the Supreme Court. We can only hope that the justices will uphold Constitutional provisions over political exigencies. Otherwise, the struggle against a repressive political regime may rear its head again.

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