Arroyo Anti-terror law questioned in Supreme Court
July 25, 2007
25 July 2007
Source: Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR)
The following is a 24 July 2007 alert from CMFR, a SEAPA founding
member based in the Philippines:
Anti-terror law questioned in Supreme Court
More than 20 petitions have been filed by various organizations and
individuals before the Supreme Court questioning the
constitutionality of the anti-terror law.
The Human Security Act, or Republic Act 9372, was signed into
law in March 2007. The petitions are asking for a temporary
restraining order on its implementation.
The Supreme Court has deferred a decision, and has ordered
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and other respondents to comment
on the petition.
The Act was signed into law in the presidential office of
Malacañang on 6 March. It went into effect on 15 July, amid
criticisms that the government has yet to issue implementing rules
Adding to widespread reservations over its constitutionality,
Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez told reporters in July that the Act
permits the wiretapping of media practitioners suspected of
involvement in terrorism.
Martin Scheinin, United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights
and Counter Terrorism, said in a 12 March statement that “many
provisions of the Human Security Act are not in accordance with
international human rights standards”. He then urged the Philippine
government to amend, if not repeal, the law.
The law has also been criticized for its broad definition of
terrorism as anything that instills widespread fear, and for making
ordinary crimes like arson and rebellion terrorist acts if they
meet the definition.
Aside from Arroyo, other respondents named in the petitions are the
members of the Anti-Terrorism Council created by the Act, namely
its chair, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita; Justice Secretary
Gonzales; Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo; Acting Defense
Secretary and National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzale; Interior
Secretary Ronaldo Puno; and Finance Secretary Margarito Teves,
Also named respondents are the National Intelligence Coordinating
Agency, the National Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of
Immigration, Office of Civil Defense, the Intelligence Service of
the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Anti-Money Laundering
Council, the Philippine Center for Transnational Crime, Philippine
National Police Director General Oscar Calderon and AFP chief of
staff General Hermogenes Esperon, Jr.
Justice Secretary Gonzalez said that the public should first test
the effectiveness of the law before seeking its amendment.
“Until we can test the effectiveness of the law, I don’t think it’s
wise for us to talk about amending it. Therefore, let us wait for
the full implementation of the law, then find out whether there is
ground for the criticisms that right now are being announced,”
Human rights and lawyers’ groups, however, say the law is flawed
and likely to lead to human rights abuses once implemented.
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