Puno Gives Hope in Stopping New Philippines Terror Law — Bayan

Apr. 23, 2007

MANILA — Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno hit the nail on the head.

This was the reaction of the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan after Puno slammed the United States-led war on terror and its particular conduct in the Philippines. The Supreme Court justice criticized the worsening human rights situation in the country as a result of a state that has been weakened by corruption and lack of credibility.

Bayan has long protested the US-war on terror and has been on the receiving end of constant attacks from state security forces. It has also opposed the approval of the anti-terror law now called the Human Security Act of 2007.

The statements of Justice Puno are very much welcome in this time of intensifying attacks on human rights and civil liberties. From his statements, we can see that there is still hope in stopping the very draconian Human Security Act of 2007 and prevent the escalation of human rights violations in the country. Arroyo might now be able to ram down the terror law down the throats of the people, said Bayan chair Carol Araullo.

We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will not allow the abusive implementation of warrantless arrests, surveillance, seizure of bank assets and prolonged detention of the innocent. Puno has sounded a call to the people to resist measures such as the terror law, Araullo added.

The recent Permanent Peoples Tribunal also scored the effects of the US-led war on terror in the Philippines, citing the continued political and military support of the US government for the Arroyo regimes all-out war policy.

Cause-oriented groups are working on the formation of a broad opposition to the Human Security Act saying that the over broad and vague definition of the law can be used to quell even legitimate forms of dissent. This has become particularly worrisome for the anti-Arroyo forces engaged in efforts to impeach the president or force her to step down through peaceful protest actions.

The next fight after the May elections will be the campaign against the anti-terrorism law. We have two months after May 14 to stop the implementation of this measure. All freedom-loving Filipinos must resist. We have to be ready to take the issue to the streets and to the Supreme Court, said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

In due time, we will question the terror law before the SC. There is no assurance that the law will not be abused. The Arroyo government is very desperate in trying to suppress its enemies from the Left, the media and the Opposition. This government will do anything to stay in power, even if it means labeling its opponents as terrorists, Reyes said.

Reyes said that human rights violations and the mindless war on terror will be among the issues the group will raise during the yearly May 1 Labor Day rallies which hope to draw several thousands this year.

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