Nene Pimentel to RP’s Lawyers: Uphold the Law, Human Rights

Mar. 30, 2007

(Speech of Sen. Nene Pimentel, Senate Minority Leader, at the 11th Integrated Bar of the Philippines National Convention, March 29, 2007, in Cagayan de Oro City)

There are two things I want to share with you this afternoon.

The first has to do with the recently approved Human Security Act. The second is about the elections.

The reason I limit my talk to these two topics is that either or both have the potential to wreck havoc on the lives of our people in the short run.

Improperly implemented, the Human Security Act of 2007 could be an instrument of State terror to oppress our people especially the less connected.

Improperly conducted, the elections in May 2007 could trigger an upheaval in the country.

The Human Security Act

The Human Security Act was signed by the President as Republic Act No. 9372 on March 6, 2007.

The Act now has 62 sections. As Senate Bill No. 2137, it had only 53 sections.

I submitted over a hundred amendments some in written form, others verbally made on the floor of the Senate. About 97% of the amendments was accepted the amendments are now embodied in the Act.

In effect, there is hardly any section that does not bear the imprint of the amendments that I introduced.

Security & Liberty

I will not mention all of them. We do not have the time for that. I will just say that all the amendments I introduced are designed to make the Act provide security for our people and country against terrorism but at the same time uphold the rights and secure the liberties of our people.

Nonetheless, the Act has some inherent defects. For example, it does not define what terrorism is. It merely makes it illegal for persons to commit six offenses already punished in the Revised Penal Code* and six other crimes already penalized in special laws on martial law decrees* if done to sow panic in a community.

These criminal acts are punished in the HSA under two categories:

1. The crime of terrorism, and
2. The crime of conspiracy to commit terrorism.

Both are punished with a single and indivisible penalty of 40 years of imprisonment.

During the debates on the Bill, I argued that there was no need to punish again what is already penalized in existing laws. To no avail.

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