Press Release
April 9, 2007


Despite a slew of safeguards that were tucked into the Human Security Act (Republic Act 9372) to prevent human rights violations, the countrys version of the anti-terrorism law, this new legislation has the potential to wreck havoc on the lives of the people.

This was the warning issued today by Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) in the face of the reservations, if not outright resistance, expressed by various groups over the enactment of the controversial measure.

During the deliberations on the HRA, Pimentel presented over a hundred amendments, about 97 percent of which was accepted and are now embodied in the Act.

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 security the liberties of our people, he said.

However, the minority leader also said: Improperly implemented, the Human Security Act of 2007 could be an instrument of State terror to oppress our people, especially the less connected.

He voiced apprehensions that some provisions of the HRA may be abused by the powerful and used as an instrument of State terrorism against the powerless. These provisions allow law enforcement agents:

1. To place a terror suspect under surveillance. 2. To arrest and detain terror suspects without warrants. 3. To examine a terror suspects bank deposits. 4. To seize, sequester and freeze bank deposits, financial papers and properties of all kinds or nature of terror suspects.

On surveillance of suspects, Pimentel said law enforcement agents may use the most sophisticated gadgets available in the market like the Magic Lantern and the Carnivore to search the suspects written communications and tap his or her conversations.

And they can do the surveillance without the person being made aware in the slightest of the search and tapping going on in the innermost recesses of his or her home or office or place of leisure, even, he said.

However, Pimentel said that under the amendment he suggested, law enforcement agents are required under the HRA to apply for permission to conduct surveillance with the division of the Court of Appeals designated by the Supreme Court.

He said the new law requires that probable cause should be established as basis for granting the authority to surveil a suspect.

On the warrantless arrest of terror suspects, Pimentel said that while the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police wanted the suspects to be detained for 90 to 120 days, the Senate reduced the period of warrantless detention to only three days.

Pimentel argued that the Constitution has in fact fixed a maximum of three days for warrantless arrests. He pointed out that even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended in times of insurrection or rebellion, the maximum number of days for which a person may be detained is only three days.

On the examination of a terror suspects bank deposits and financial papers, Pimentel said the new legislation requires that law enforcement authorities should first secure authorization from the proper court, which in turn may grant such request on the basis of probable cause.

Pimentel said the HRA authorizes law enforcement agents to seize, sequester and freeze the bank deposits, financial assets and properties of whatever nature of a person suspected of or charged with terror crimes.

As stipulated under section 39 of the HRA, the seizure, sequestration or freezing of assets may be done at the stage where the person is merely suspected of, or charged with, but not yet convicted of terrorist crimes.

Pimentel said that by itself, section 39 trumps at least three of a persons fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution:

1. The right not to be deprived of property without due process of law. 2. The right to the equal protection of the law. 3. The right to be presumed innocent until the contrary is proven.

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