Posted: March 8, 2007
Institutionalizing Martial Rule through the Anti Terrorism Law
GMA has signed another dreaded law today, the Human Security Act commonly known as Anti-Terrorism Bill, adding to her crimes against the Filipino people. Today, more than ever, GMA proved that there is no room for human rights, social justice and democracy in its regime. State terrorism is practically legalized, and the unabated spate of political and extra judicial killings is justified, with the signing of the Anti-Terror Bill. The Cordillera Peoples Alliance strongly denounces this. With this law at hand and the Oplan Bantay Laya II in operation, we can only expect graver human rights violations, killings, and worsened national oppression of indigenous peoples and the Filipino people.
vague and dangerous definition
In addition, Section 17 of the Bill allows the proscription of organizations as terrorists on the mere application by the Department of Justice before any Regional Trial Court (RTC). All it takes is for the notorious Secretary of Department of Justice Raul Gonzales to file a case before any RTC and an organization, association or group of persons may be declared as a terrorist and thus, outlawed. Easily tagged as terrorists, with the CPP/NPA/NDFP and MILF, are groups which State agents have maliciously labelled as “front organizations”, such as the CPA and other legal and legitimate people’s organizations, whose leaders and advocates have been politically assassinated by the Arroyo regime’s military death squads while the rest are threatened and harassed.
In the Bill, terrorism is defined from a point of view of a militarist and fascist regime that has a very poor human rights record and no respect for peoples’ democratic rights. It is also enacted by a regime which is at the brink of collapse, and whose political survival is in a state of mayhem. That is the Arroyo regime whose only interest is to remain in power by the power of the gun. It is also the commitment of Mrs. Arroyo and her minions to Bush’s War on Terror to maintain their support for her political survival.
Section 53 provides for the creation of the Anti-Terrorism Council. The members of the Council are (1) Executive Secretary; (2) the Secretary of Justice; (3) the Secretary of Foreign Affairs; (4) the Secretary of National Defense; (5) the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government; (6) the Secretary of Finance; and, (7) the National Security Advisor. The National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) shall serve as its secretariat. The Council’s functions include: direct the speedy investigation and prosecution of all persons accused or detained for the crime of terrorism or conspiracy to commit terrorism; freeze bank accounts, funds of suspected terrorists; establish and maintain database on terrorism. Most of the members of the Anti-Terrorism Council are already part of the notorious cabinet cluster on security. As members of the Cabinet Oversight Committee for Internal Security (COC-IS), Eduardo Ermita, Raul Gonzalez, Norberto Gonzales are the masterminds of repressive policies and measures such as the Oplan Bantay Laya, Proclamation 1017, calibrated pre-emptive response and executive order 464. The three are now joined by newly appointed Defense Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane, a retired general linked to the Garci scandal.
of lawlessness and impunity
We do not need another law. Lack of laws is not the problem as there are more than enough laws. Existing laws do not prevent authorities from going after real terrorists and criminals. What is needed is political will to hunt down the real terrorists even if this means prosecuting the top brass of the AFP, PNP and the Commander-in-Chief as no one is above the law. What is also needed is effective law enforcement and overhauling of the corrupt criminal justice system.
It cannot be denied that according to international law and resolutions, international humanitarian law and conventions, the commentaries of numerous legal scholars as well as judicial doctrine pertaining to the matter, acts in pursuit of one’s political beliefs are considered legitimate, have legal recognition and cannot as such be regarded, much less penalized, as terrorism.
With the nearing elections, the CPA reiterates its call to the public not to support and vote candidates and political parties who supported the passage of the Bill. It is even deplorable that even our congressmen from the Cordillera homeland have given their support for the passage of the Anti Terrorism Bill. What we should support are candidates and political parties who can stand for the rights and interest of the people, of the marginalized sectors.
The dark years of martial law haunts the Filipino people tenfold with the institutionalization of the Terror Law. The government exists for the people, and must uphold the rights of its constituents. But what we have is one that leads the grossest violation of human rights in Philippine history. We must unite and act against more political persecution and killings, human rights violations, and national oppression of indigenous peoples. We must act together to reclaim the democracy and social justice we are entitled to in a government. The time to act is NOW!
the Anti Terrorism Law!