Flawed to its core and hated like the regime that produced it, the HSA is the Arroyo government's belligerent response to the growing popular resistance to its misrule. Also known as the (anti) terrorism law, the HSA is being deplored as the regime's latest and most comprehensive legal measure of repression and curtailment of our fundamental rights and basic freedoms.
The Human Security Act of 2007 is riddled with grave infirmities and loopholes and breaches the Constitution, the international human rights as well as international humanitarian laws and principles. Its growing number of critics are calling for its outright repeal.
A key issue against this law is the dangerously vague, encompassing and overarching notion of "terrorism" that draws no distinction between "acts of terror" and legitimate exercise of dissent and social protest. The fundamental principle of due process is seriously violated in this regard. Anyone can be accused of the crime of "terrorism" that is not precisely and legally defined. By criminalizing dissent and by drawing no distinction between legitimate acts of protests and political actions versus common crimes—the HSA is a draconian measure of insecurity and terror.
The HSA comes at a time, when the legitimacy of the Arroyo government is seriously being challenged and a prevailing climate of impunity has come to characterize the regime's brazen disregard for human rights and its gruesome record of atrocities committed against its staunchest critics—the social activists, human rights defenders and the left movement. We have witnessed for instance, how the likes of Jonas Burgos , son of a press freedom and anti-Martial Law icon could be abducted in broad daylight by suspected agents of the state and be made to disappear until today. We have known that tens to hundreds of suspected leftist activists were shot dead by hooded assailants astride their motorcycles.
Against this national backdrop of lawlessness and a climate of fear and terror, the Human Security Act of 2007 or RA 9372 will open the floodgates for the wholesale violations of human rights and civil liberties.
The Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth-Philippines (LRC-KsK/FOE-Phils.) joins the growing voices of indignation against the HSA and the louder clamor for its repeal. Such highly infirm law has no place in a supposedly democratic society and political system supposedly governed by the rule of law.
Given the regime's track record of mounting atrocities and human rights abuse, the unreformed military and the police forces, the national security-mindset of the HSA's architects and implementors and the red-baiting and labeling of groups , organizations and individuals critical of the government's policies and actions—we have all the reasons to doubt the so-called safeguards that the HSA contain against arbitrary acts and abuse.
Under the HSA, "terrorist acts" include political offenses and actions such as rebellion and insurrection, thus criminalizing political dissent and actions. Suspected offenders under the law are subject to surveillance and wiretapping, and their assets frozen. Organizations, particularly those critical of the regime, can easily be proscribed as "terrorists" and their members prosecuted. Thus , the new law provides for the legal justification for state and security forces to go after the "enemies of the state" it will now call "terrorists", and this time, replete with legal guarantees and all-out impunity.
This early, the law's architects and implementors are itching to wield the full force of RA 9372 to weigh down anyone it will conveniently call "communists" and "terrorists". This includes even legal organizations and elected public officials that are among the most strident critics of the regime and its harmful policies and actions.
Assault against the legitimate right to self-determination
The LRC-KsK expresses particular concern about the RA 9372's impact on the Indigenous peoples and other vulnerable sectors whose sources of subsistence and even their whole way of life—stand seriously threatened by the adverse impact of the GMA government's frenzied drive to attract large-scale investors into the extractive industries such as mining, logging and plantations.
For instance, given the regime's policy of attracting huge mining investments in resource-rich areas all over the country , where many indigenous peoples and rural producers reside—and given the deeply flawed legal and justice system that has largely failed to give redress to the aggrieved poor—it is not hard to believe that the full weight of the law may well be used –in the guise of targeting "terrorists" and "threats to national security"—in order to pacify and silence affected communities and indigenous peoples resisting incursion of large-scale mining into their ancestral domains.
The enforcement of the HSA runs ominously parallel with the government's announcement to develop 23 priority mining investments areas all over the Philippines and to attract around $7 to $10B worth of large-scale mining investments in the country by 010—the last year of the GMA's remaining presidential term. The HSA can indeed help ensure that large-scale mining incursions will successfully bulldoze their way over the indigenous peoples' sacred and ancestral lands.
Who can stop the regime's minions and their allies in the mining industry from subjecting anti-mining protesters, non-government organizations and church organizations to surveillance, witch hunt, harassment—and when all else fail, proscribing them as "terrorist" organizations or "communist fronts"?
When indigenous peoples will put up barricades to stop huge mining equipment from bulldozing their way into the their sacred lands and ancestral [WINDOWS-1252?]domains—what will stop the regime's local minions, in complicity with mining companies—to label these acts of protests as "economic sabotage" and "terrorist acts"?
The HSA 2007 can thus, be used against the indigenous peoples' right to self-determination and just struggles of local communities to assert their right, and to defend the country's national patrimony.
May we then ask: who is terrorizing whom? Who is responsible for and promoting the insecurity of our people? It is the height of absurdity that the very regime that has caused the people's continued misery and sufferings, and has thus continued to fan the flames of discontent, has now proclaimed to save the people from threats of "terrorism" and threats to their security.
The Arroyo government is afraid of its own shadows and has no one to blame but itself for the increasing national restiveness against its governance. It has allowed its own security and survival to take precedence over the people's security and well-being, basic rights and fundamental freedoms.
We say no to the Arroyo government's HSA that is passed in our name. We refuse to accept that the Arroyo regime's need for security and survival is also our own. Instead, we call for the repeal of the HSA and for the reversal of anti-people policies and programs that are at the roots of armed conflicts, terrorist threats and national unrest that continue to besiege our country and society.
It is increasingly clear to more and more people that the Human Security Act of 2007—far from providing the Filipino people the security from fear and want—is an illegal, unjust and anti-people legislation aimed at instilling fear and paralyzing people into inaction.
The Arroyo regime should remember too well the lessons from its predecessors and from their ill-fated policies and actions: injustice and repression begets resistance. And, nothing can subdue the power of a united and determined people struggling for justice and defending their rights and hard-won freedoms.
From the women and men of The Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth-Philippines (LRC-KSK/FOE-Phils.)
For questions and additional information, please contact Sammy Gamboa at [email protected]gmail.com.