Just to get some kind of anti-terrorism law passed through Congress this year, the bill's sponsors like Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile agreed to dozens of amendments by Opposition Senators Nene Pimentel and Jamby Madrigal, representing "human right protections" in the bill. For example, the law is automatically suspended for three months around every election because of the accusation that it might be used against politicians!
Tomorrow the law is supposed go into effect under tremendous controversy and vituperative attacks from the Left and Liberal Establishments, but I am afraid that Nene Pimentel has outfoxed JPE and succeeded in putting such CONGENITAL DEFECTS in the body of the law that it cannot but require a major overhaul before it can be considered to be useful in any reasonable sense. Taken at face value, the new law makes Ferdinand Marcos Defense Minister and martial law administrator out to be one of the greatest Civil Libertarians and Human Rights Activists of All Time.
Many people like me had been hoping for a law that forces the problem of terrorism out into the broader Civil Society instead of being purely the concern of the Military and Security forces. By creating a category of crime called terrorism composed of existing crimes committed with ideological, political or even religious motives and having ponderable social psychological effects on the citizenry, by criminalizing terrorism, we force it out of the narrow confines of a pure military war on terror, into a full fledged social awareness of the need for self defense and national security, which combination we might call "human security."
Ideally the new law should promote the development of the INTELLIGENCE GATHERING capabilities of law enforcement agencies and the Military, so that our response to terrorism is not not merely reactive, but proactive. Knowing what the enemy is doing allows us to enjoy the economy of prevention rather than bloody expense of cure. Let's take a look at how the Opposition inutilized the law:
Consider the much feared and ballyhooed Surveillance Provision of HSA 2007:
SEC. 7. Surveillance of Suspects and Interception and Recording of Communications. – The provisions of Republic Act No. 4200 (Anti-wire Tapping Law) to the contrary notwithstanding, a police or law enforcement official and the members of his team may, upon a written order of the Court of Appeals, listen to, intercept and record, with the use of any mode, form, kind or type of electronic or other surveillance equipment or intercepting and tracking devices, or with the use of any other suitable ways and means for that purpose, any communication, message, conversation, discussion, or spoken or written words between members of a judicially declared and outlawed terrorist organization, association, or group of persons or of any person charged with or suspected of the crime of terrorism or conspiracy to commit terrorism.Did they leave anyone out at all? Exempted from surveillance, interception and recording of their communications in the Philippines would be DOCTOR Zayman al-Zawahiri and his famous PATIENT, Osama bin Laden.
Provided, That surveillance, interception and recording of communications between lawyers and clients, doctors and patients, journalists and their sources and confidential business correspondence shall not be authorized.
In short the Surveillance provision applies to NOBODY. Moreover, it tells potential terrorists how to skirt the law, painting the loophole in giant letters: conduct all your terrorist business as "confidential business correspondence."
Not only that, because the Human Security Act effectively repeals the Antiwiretapping Act of Lorenzo Tanada (Rep. Act 4200), it is actually HARDER now to get a wiretap authorization because it must be secured from a special division of the Court of Appeals rather than just to any Regional Trial Court as RA 4200 allowed. Also RA4200 did not restrict the targets of wiretapping based on their occupations and relationships to one another! It allowed wiretapping for national defense and national security purposes.
The Human Security Act is therefore "damaged goods" full of "poison pawn" provisions that actually inhibit the ability of law enforcement by imposing incredible penalties for even honest mistakes, including 10 year jail sentences and half million peso per day fines. No wonder Nene Pimentel was willing to sign the bill when it came before the Senate! No wonder Satur Ocampo is warning law enforcement agencies to be careful about using this law. It could bite them.
We have recently already noted several other absurd provisions of this anti-anti-terrorist law.
What Nene has accomplished through JPE is to produce a genetically modified organism that may only deter law enforcers from doing their jobs more than it will deter the terrorists.