By Cheryll D. Fiel
Davao Today

Karlo Bello says the HSA can be abused. ( photo by Cheryll D. Fiel)

DAVAO CITY — Neophyte councilor Karlo Bello, who was recently selected as the chairman of the City Council’s Committee on Civil, Political and Human Rights, has expressed reservations about the anti-terrorism law, or the Human Security Act, saying it might result in more human-rights abuses.

The young lawmaker said he was worried that human-rights violations are bound to be committed unless those who will implement the law are blameless. “Although I am giving them the benefit of the doubt, the military has a record of human rights violations,” Bello said in a recent interview with

“The same people who are already committing human-rights violations could be given authority to commit the same acts,” he said, referring to allegations that the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of activists are mainly the handiwork of the armed forces.

The law is set to be implemented on July 15, although officials said this may be deferred because of the absence of implementing rules and guidelines.

Bello also bewailed the fact that the law was passed in compliance with the request of the United States, in connection with its own campaign against terrorism — something, Bello said, that has not been a very good example.

Bello pointed out that the United States passed a similar law that resulted in human-rights abuses, such as what happened in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib where suspected terrorists were tortured and abused in prison camps.

He also said he was apprehensive that the Human Security Act might encroach into the privacy of ordinary Filipinos.

Bello is the son of former justice secretary Silvestre Bello III, who used to head the government panel in the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF).

On the other hand, the new head of the City Council’s Committee on Peace and Public Safety, Councilor Danilo Dayanghirang, said he believed the implementation of the new law will help solve the problem on terrorism.

Dayanghirang said money is what the country needs to “effectively fight terrorism.”

“The funding that will be given to us can buy equipment and other necessary materials for the maintenance of law and order. You know the bottom line of all these is money,” Dayanghirang said.

This week, the government announced that the US Senate and Congress have increased military funding to the Philippines. Part of the condition for the increase is for the Philippines to follow the recommendations of the United Nations on how to address the killings and to make sure as well that Philippine security forces do not violate human rights. (Cheryll D. Fiel/

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