Palace to CBCP: ‘Help explain, not fight, anti-terror law’
Anti-terror council no longer drafting IRR
MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) Instead of criticizing the anti-terror law, officially named the Human Security Act (HSA), the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) would do better by helping make people understand that the controversial measure is meant to protect them, Malacañang said Tuesday.
Members of the Anti-Terror Council, on the other hand, reiterated that the HSA will take effect on July 15 with no need for implementing rules and regulations (IRR).
In fact, members of the council led by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, chairman and vice-chairman respectively, said they will no longer draft an IRR for the law.
Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye insisted the new law, which the CBCP had said could be used by authorities to quell popular dissent against the Arroyo administration, is “vital to our nation’s security.”
“Any delay in its implementation could embolden terrorists more, while depriving our people of stronger protection,” Bunye said.
But CBCP spokesman Monsignor Pedro Quitorio said Malacañang had misread the bishops’ sentiments on the HSA.
“The CBCP is not fighting anti-terror law…they have a wrong reading of the [CBCP] statement,” he said in Filipino. “What we are saying is that they study it first before they implement it…review some provisions…before they implement [the HSA] immediately…especially with the disappearances and [extrajudicial] killings…it does not look as if this will help the people, especially the victims,” he said.
Presidential Legal Counsel Sergio Apostol also said that criminal laws like the HSA do not need an IRR before they can be implemented.
The HSA “is very detailed in the law, the provisions, on how to implement it,” Gonzalez told reporters at the Manila airport Tuesday morning before flying to Cagayan de Oro for a security cluster summit with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Bunye said the law will be fully operational “with full respect to civil liberties and our Constitution.”
“The goal of the HSA is to secure our people from the scourge of terrorism,” he said.
“The CBCP and other groups are encouraged to link up with government in a comprehensive effort to inform the public about this law and help monitor its implementation,” Bunye said.
“We call on all sectors to let government do its job in implementing this law,” he added.
In an interview in Manila early in the day, Ermita gave reporters a one-page summary of some provisions of the HSA titled “The Truth about the Human Security Act of 2007.”
The summary contains “myths” and “facts” about the law and a comparative matrix between the HSA and the anti-terrorism law of other countries.
Ermita said that contrary to fears raised by some groups about the law, the HSA is full of safeguards against abuse.
In fact, he said 59 of the HSA’s 62 sections are about protecting human rights.