‘(In)Human Security Act to attack civil liberties’

Jul. 13, 2007

We have two more days before the full implementation of the contested
anti-terror law. That is two more days before legitimizing the
outright attacks on civil rights and liberties perpetrated by no less
than the US-Arroyo regime.

On February 8, 2007, voting 16-2, the Senate passed on final reading
the Anti-Terrorism Act, euphemistically titled, the Human Security Act
(HSA) of 2007.

The HSA defines and penalizes terrorism. It says terrorism is the
commission of crimes (rebellion, murder, kidnapping, hijacking etc.)
that sow or create a condition of “widespread and extraordinary fear
and panic among the populace in order to coerce the government to give
in to an unlawful demand.”

However, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan together with progressive
peoples’ organizations, civil libertarians and human rights group
disputes the definition of terrorism in the HSA as prone to abuse by
the authorities since it is too vague and overbroad.

Who defines such terms as “widespread”, “extraordinary”, “panic”,
“populace”, “unlawful” and so on? Even legitimate dissent can be
interpreted as terrorism since under the HSA the definition is not
limited to the Abu Sayyaf Group, Jemaah Islamiyah and Al Qaeda. Thus,
the potential abuse of the law by the Arroyo government is immense.

On July 15, anybody who is suspected by the government as a terrorist,
or is a member of an alleged terrorist organization, could be arrested
and detained even without a warrant. The government will be free to
eavesdrop and record all conversations, freezing of bank accounts and
confiscation of assets of a suspected terrorist all it takes is to
be suspected.

After a fraudulent May 2007 elections, worsening case of poverty and
rising cost of daily living, the Arroyo administration is expecting
the mounting rage of the people against her inhuman policies.

The US-Arroyo regime is hell-bent on implementing the HSA that will
enable the government to legalize their crackdown against the critics
of the administration. Even without the HSA, the Arroyo administration
has been successful in sowing fear and panic among the people using
state terrorism.

More than 800 cases of extrajudicial killings took place since the
start of Arroyo’s term in 2001. Forced disappearances and surveillance
among members of militant groups are rampant.

We believe that the terror law is the equivalent of a “bill of
attainder” wherein people are penalized on the basis of association
and not on the basis of any criminal act committed. It allows arrests
based on guilt by association. If the government proscribes the
Communist Party of the Philippines then they can, theoretically, they
also arrest legal activists whom they have maliciously labeled as
fronts and sympathizers.

We condemn this brazen attack on civil rights and liberties. We
condemn the desperate efforts of the US-Arroyo regime to silence the
mounting people’s movement.

We call on all civil libertarians, human right advocates, church
people, media practitioner, lawyers and the rest of the Filipino
people to take another challenge of showing rejection against the
tyranny of an illegitimate regime.

Defy and oppose state terrorism!

Junk Human Security Act of 2007!

Bayan-Southern Mindanao

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