ALTERNATIVE LAW GROUPS, INC.’s

STATEMENT ON THE HUMAN SECURITY ACT OF 2007

We, the Alternative Law Groups, Inc. (ALG), a coalition of eighteen (18) legal-resource non-government organizations that work for the empowerment of the poor and marginalized sectors in the country, reject and condemn the Human Security Act of 2007 (R.A. No. 9372).   This law threatens the peoples’ rights to life, liberty and property, and endangers constitutionally protected rights to due process.   It is the worst installment yet employed by the government in its campaign against the genuine exercise of civil and political rights of communities and organizations, following the constitutionally infirm Executive Order 464, Calibrated Preemptive Response and Presidential Proclamation 1017.

For almost two decades, our organizations have worked with marginalized communities and sectors of society in seeking justice and justice system reforms.  History has shown that these communities are the most affected by tactics employed by the government to silence the voices of opposition at the ground level.  The Human Security Act further restricts the right of the people to seek redress on the government’s failure to provide basic services and address national concerns.

The Human Security Act’s definition of “terrorism” is so ambiguous that it can encompass legitimate and non-terrorist activities, resulting to a chilling effect for those who are lawfully exercising their civil and political human rights.  The provisions on surveillance, interception and recording of private communications, prolonged and unlimited period of detention without warrant, and proscription of terrorist organizations, associations, or groups of persons, effectively infringe constitutionally guaranteed rights.   Given that the constitutional guarantees have often been observed in breach even before the passage of the Human Security Act, a law that authorizes direct contravention of these guarantees on the basis of a hazy definition of “terrorism” would open the floodgates to more abuses and violations.

Under these circumstances, the poor and marginalized sectors are the most vulnerable to abuses in the implementation of the Human Security Act because they lack the resources to ensure that their rights are respected and protected.  Even prior to the passage of the law, the rights of the poor and marginalized sectors have not been recognized and have been trampled upon — a depressing fact that continues to this day.   With the passage of the law, this situation will worsen.

As it is, even without the law, Moro communities in Mindanao, Metro Manila and elsewhere have been raided, religious leaders forcibly taken, and innocent civilians illegally arrested, tortured and detained, all in the name of counter-terrorism.  As if the high level of militarization in many areas, especially in Sulu and Central Mindanao, is not enough to disrupt the simple lives of the residents, the Human Security Act will surely embolden state authorities to encroach on their civil liberties.  The Moro is always singled out as the usual suspect in bombings that occur whenever peace becomes a likely prospect and the business of war is threatened.  The Human Security Act will certainly encourage such discriminatory stereotyping of the Moro as terrorist.

The Human Security Act is indeed alarming in the context of the current political and economic policies of the government that facilitate the entry of foreign investments in the extractive industry and agribusiness sector, once again affecting the poor and marginalized sectors the most.  Considering that militarization and numerous human rights violations connected with development aggression are pervasive at the ground level, the Human Security Act only legitimizes the unlawful and inhumane treatment of communities and organizations opposing development aggression.

The law is clearly another blatant attempt to silence the voices of communities who are suffering from the effects of national policies, laws and regulations that only work for the benefit of a few and continue to violate individual and collective rights.  The law merely serves to distract the general public from the real terrorism that is happening now – the rampant violations of people’s rights, including the extrajudicial killings of activists, human rights defenders, journalists, and lawyers, and the government impunity that accompany such violations.  The law does not address these issues, nor does it provide for adequate safeguards in the protection of the rights of the general public.

The Human Security Act of 2007 is not the answer to achieve peace and security throughout the country.  This can only be done through good governance, transparency, accountability, a human-rights approach in the implementation of policies and laws, and genuine efforts to ensure public participation.  Unfortunately, this is where the present government is sorely lacking.  Unless these issues are answered, the Human Security Act of 2007 shall only be another backward step from true national development and security.    This is an Act that promotes government-led terrorism.

We call on all lawyers, paralegals, communities, and civil society organizations to demand the repeal of the Human Security Act.   We call on all members of civil society to remain vigilant in the protection of the rights of the poor and marginalized sectors and to ensure the accountability of those who perpetrate acts curtailing fundamental freedoms!

 

The ALTERNATIVE LAW GROUPS, INC.  

15 July 2007

 

Alternative Law Research and Development Center, Inc. (ALTERLAW), Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC), Balay Alternative Legal Advocates for Development in Mindanaw, Inc. (BALAOD MINDANAW), Children’s Legal Bureau (CLB), Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC), Free Rehabilitation, Economic, Education and Legal Assistance Volunteers Association, Inc. (FREELAVA), Kaisahan Tungo sa Kaunlaran ng Kanayunan at Repormang Pansakahan (KAISAHAN), Kanlungan Center Foundation, Inc. (KANLUNGAN), Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan-Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC-KSK-FOE Phils.), Paglilingkod Batas Pangkapatiran Foundation, Inc. (PBPF), Participatory Research Organization of Communities and Education Towards Struggle for Self-Reliance (PROCESS-PANAY), Pilipina Legal Resources Center (PLRC), Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal (SALIGAN), Tanggapang Panligal ng Katutubong Pilipino (PANLIPI), Tanggol Kalikasan (TK), Women’s Legal Bureau (WLB), Women’s Legal Education, Advocacy and Defense Foundation, Inc. (WomenLEAD)