The Supreme Court Chief Justice says government’s war on terror is mindless.
April 23, 2007
(Do we really have to jump whenever GW Bush snaps his fingers? How much longer until the world recognizes the Philippines as a country that is not just the American clone in South East Asia? Apparently, the closeness between the top government officials of the Philippines in seeking GWA Bush’s approval prior to every move they make has caught the attention of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Here is the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s story on the link between Americas was on terrorism and how the Asian puppets react to it. Whether there may be a connection or not, the number of slain journalists in the country is at 51 dead by ambush, whether in their own homes or near the homes and/or offices. This is a record high established during this government. Please do not just read this. Rather, react to it as it affects us more and more everyday. Don’t wait for the time when you will say, “It had nothing to do with me” because by then it will be too late-mod.)
SC chief says war on terror mindless. RP rights violations linked to US strategy By Leila Salaverria Philippine Daily Inquirer 04/23/2007 MANILA, Philippines — Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno has denounced as “mindless” the war on terrorism, saying the US strategy to root out terrorists anywhere has led to violations of human rights in the Philippines. In an impassioned plea for respect of human rights, the country’s top jurist also warned that a state hobbled by credibility problems and corruption would not be able to protect civil liberties. “The war on terrorism has inevitable spillover effects on human rights all over the world, especially in countries suspected (of) being used as havens of terrorists,” Puno said. He added this had led to the taking of legal shortcuts. “These shortcuts have scarred the landscape of [human] rights in the Philippines,” he said. The United States has hailed the Philippines as a major ally in its war on terror in Asia and has been training Filipino troops in the campaign against foreign-backed extremists operating in southern Philippines. “The threats to our national security and human rights will be aggravated if we have a state weakened internally by a government hobbled by corruption, struggling with credibility, battling the endless insurgence of the left and the right, and by a state weakened externally by pressure exerted by creditor countries, by countries where our trade comes from, by countries that supply our military and police armaments,” Puno said. “A weak state cannot fully protect the rights of its citizens within its borders just as a state without economic independence cannot protect the rights of its citizens who are abroad from the exploitation of more powerful countries. ” Puno spoke at the commencement exercises of the University of the East last week, and a copy of his speech was e-mailed to reporters by the Supreme Court information office. Eliminating the evil. Puno said that terrorism was terrible enough “but the mindless, knee-jerk reaction to extirpate the evil is more discomforting. ” He added that the “quickie solution is to unfurl the flag, sing the national anthem, and issue the high-pitched call to arms for the military and the police to use their weapons under the theme ‘victory at all costs. ’” He said laws limiting individual rights in the name of state security had been passed. “To put constitutional cosmetics to the military-police muscular efforts, lawmakers usually enact laws using security of the state to justify the diminution of human rights by allowing arrests without warrants, surveillance of suspects, interception and recording of communications, seizure or freezing of bank deposits, assets and records of suspects,” he added. “They also redefine terrorism as a crime against humanity and the redefinition is broadly drawn to constrict and shrink further the zone of individual rights. ” RP’s anti-terror law Puno made no specific mention of the Philippines’ own anti-terror law, the Human Security Act of 2007, which allows warrantless arrests, surveillance and seizure of bank assets, among others. His statements were the latest to emanate from a judiciary, which several times in the past had expressed concern over the violation of civil liberties in the country. In previous decisions, the Supreme Court had struck down presidential or state directives involving security matters. These included President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s imposition of emergency rule last year and the so-called calibrated preemptive response policy allowing police to break up street demonstrations. It also voided the recent arrest by the police of leftist leader Rep. Satur Ocampo. Puno also said the acts of terrorists also violated human rights but they should not be the sole focus of the people’s attention, pointing out that terrorism tended to draw attention because of the “cinematic impact” of violence. Lesson from history if there is any lesson that we can derive from the history of human rights, it is none other than that these rights cannot be obliterated by bombs but neither can they be preserved by bullets alone,” Puno said. Puno said that in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, the United States — “the worst victim of terrorism” — pursued a strategy of “bruising aggressiveness” that sent legal observers wondering. He said the effects of US actions had spilled over to the Philippines. He pointed out that the US did not even wait for the United Nations to act and instead launched attacks against terrorists wherever they could be found. In less polite parlance, the search and destroy strategy gave little respect to the sovereignty of states and violated their traditional borders,” he said. He added that this strategy trampled on the basic liberties of suspected terrorists, “for laws are silent when the guns of war do the talking.” Legal shortcuts one visible result of the scramble to end terrorism is to take legal shortcuts and legal shortcuts always shrink the scope of human rights,” he said Puno cited the escalation of extrajudicial killings in the country which got the attention of international groups, and reports of how the New People’s Army rebels themselves “lawlessly retaliated” for such killings. Puno also said poverty was a form of terrorism. In poor countries, it is poverty that truly terrorizes people for they are terrorized by the thought that they will die because of empty stomachs and not that they will lose their lives due to some invisible suicide bombers,” he said. He also said this lack of resources led to the violation of poor people’s human rights because they did not dare participate in a slow-moving justice system that would only cost them money. It does not matter exactly how many poor people there are in the Philippines, he said, citing news reports quoting the World Bank as saying 15 million people in the country survive on less than $1 a day against a government claim that only 10.5 million Filipinos live on such an amount. He said the fact was that the country continued to be beset by poverty. Everybody’s concern “To the unsophisticated in the esoterics of economics, this is a distinction without difference for the cruel fact is that poverty stalks this land of plenty and hunger is still the best food seasoning of its people,” he said Puno also said the campaign against terror had led to a massive displacement of young people from their areas. He warned: “It will not take a prophet to predict that countries that cannot give decent life to their young people will serve as incubators of extremism that may end up in terrorism. ” Puno said protecting human rights was everybody’s burden and that the apathy of fence-sitters was the worst enemy of human rights since it allowed violations to continue. The apathy of those who can make a difference is the reason why violations of human rights continue to prosper. The worst enemy of human rights is not its non-believers but the fence-sitters who will not lift a finger despite their violations,” he said. Right to live with dignity He also said the fight against terrorism and the battle to preserve human rights would affect the youth’s right to live with dignity. It could lead to their massive displacement in areas where the fight against terrorism trampled on human rights. The rich and powerful should also not ignore the protection of the rights of the poor and powerless just because they remained unaffected, he said. Incursions sooner or later, they will find that they who default in protecting the rights of the many will end up without rights like the many,” he said. With the incursions and threats of incursion to our human rights at this crucial moment in our history, the clarion call to each one of us is to consecrate our lives to the great cause of upholding our human rights,” Puno said. [Front page, Phil Daily Inquirer April 23, 2006]