16 August, 2007

The aging Cebu 2nd Rep. Pablo Garcia is reading the Human Security Act (HSA) upside down. In a news article today, Garcia was quoted declaring the HSA as “toothless” (Cebu Daily News, 08/16/07, p.08), when it is in fact armed to the teeth.

He waxed legalese over the “inapplicability” of the HSA on the alleged beheadings of marines in a firefight in Basilan. He ignores the fact that the suspects in that incident have long been tagged as terrorists even before proscription of groups become legal under this law. As such, mere membership carries same penalties with that of supporters, sympathizers, or even friends of members of proscribed groups for “conspiracy” whether they behead a marine or not.

He rued over supposed 20 criminal offenses law enforcers may be liable for in implementing this draconian measure, but he skips to say that victims must first brave the might of the state and prove it courts. He makes fuss about a P500,000 thousand-fine for erring state security forces, but he ignores the fact that they must be convicted first. So much for deterrence.

All the while, as the victims seek redress their homes remain bugged, communications tapped and bank accounts frozen. All it takes are ex parte hearings.

All the while, the victims could be arrested and detained without charges for more than three days. They could still be placed under house arrest and incommunicado detention even after posting bail.

All the while, the victims remain missing, like agriculturist Jonas Burgos, or dead like Mario Auxillio and Victor Olayvar and hundreds of other activists.

And this is the crux of the mounting opposition to this terror law. The HSA does not portend of worse things to come to government critics. It justifies the worst that is already befalling on perceived government enemies:

At least 860 have been executed by government agents since 2001. Another 130 activists were abducted and remained missing. So many have become victims of state terrorism on mere suspicion of being NPA “fronts.”

The fact is the HSA merely institutionalizes an ongoing state practice of terrorizing dissenters through political killings, abductions, torture and harassment. This terror law codifies into our laws elements of an undeclared martial rule.


Dennis Abarrientos

Secretary-General, KARAPATAN-Central Visayas


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