Anti-terror law not a license for killings — EU envoy

By Carla Gomez
Visayas Bureau
Last updated 05:07pm (Mla time) 07/05/2007

BACOLOD CITY — The Filipino people and the international community will be watching closely how the implementing rules of the Human Security Act of 2007 or the anti-terror law will be drawn up and applied, said Ambassador Alistair MacDonald, head of delegation of the European Commission to the Philippines.


“The anti-terrorism law is not an excuse to go out and shoot people… to target people for matters not provided in the law,” said MacDonald, who was in Negros Occidental to meet with farmers who have benefited from the European Union-funded Small Projects Facility.


The Human Security Act comes into force on July 15 but the implementing rules and regulations that will clarify how the law will be implemented have not yet been adopted and that is an important factor in seeing how the law will be practiced, MacDonald said.


“The Philippine public and international community will be looking attentively to see how these implementing rules are established and to see how the human security act is actually applied,” he said.


He said the EU was far from imposing sanctions on the Philippines for human rights violations.


There have been some international comment and domestic concerns and fears raised on how the law might be used in the Philippines, although many countries in the world also have anti-terror legislation, said MacDonald.


“The special anti-terrorists legislation is not in itself something of great concern other than for terrorists,” he said.


Even in his own country, Scotland, there is anti-terror legislation to address the terrorist threat, MacDonald said, pointing out that he is from Glasgow where a car bomb attack was made on its airport recently.


“So many countries in the world have special legislation intended to address the special threat of terrorism. What is important is that legislation is used wisely, effectively and in accordance with the law,” he said.


The EU is very far from cutting assistance to the Philippines for alleged human rights violations, MacDonald said.


“There are a number of countries in the world where the human rights situation is extremely bad, the Philippines is not yet within that group,” he said. “We are far from imposing any sanctions, we are far from any discussion on that and I hope that we will never get to that point.”


“Why should we think of cutting back on our assistance in the health sector, rural development sector in relation to poverty alleviation that would hardly be of any assistance in dealing with the basic issues that the Philippines is facing,” he said.


He said the Philippine government has requested the EU’s assistance on how to deal with human rights concerns and they were considering how the EU could best provide this.


What is important is that the Philippine government has acknowledged that there is a human rights problem and has sought technical assistance from the EU to help deal with it, he said.


MacDonald said the European Commission to the Philippines and the Philippine Commission on Human Rights have signed an agreement to launch a new EC-funded human rights project.


The project that will be implemented by the Philippine CHR together with its sister institutions in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand is intended to pave the way for the development of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) human rights mechanism, he said.


With a grant of P58 million from the European Community, the project is expected to contribute towards the improvement of human rights standards in the four countries, he said.


He said the project was part of the EU’s commitment to support and protect human rights around the world, he said.


MacDonald lauded the success of Alter Trade, a local cooperative working directly with farmers, to which the EU had given a P10.18 million grant for a project called “Nurturing Learning Communities on Organic Agriculture for Exports to European Markets.”


Through this project, organic project technologies were taught to about 1,500 poor farmers in Negros Occidental, helping increase farm incomes, he said.


Alter Trade has been assisting farmers in Negros in adopting organic farming systems, to rehabilitate the soil ecology of the province and to provide safer food for consumers.


Alter Trade’s organic certified mascuvado sugar is now being sold in Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Switzerland.


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