Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Nene Pimentel Defends the Terrorist's Bill of Rights (aka Human Security Act of 2007)

Last Friday's deadly blast at the Glorietta 2 shopping mall in Makati City has officially been ruled a "gas explosion by the Philippine National Police". Nevertheless it could've easily been a real terrorist bomb attack with similar effects on infrastructure, populace and government. We need to be prepared for such a terrorist strike by reviewing disaster coordinating plans such as fire, medical and of course the over all law enforcement scheme. We need to look at the existing anti-terrorism law in the light of what was not a terrorist strike, but could've been. It is now, and not later, that we must examine the law and see how it would've performed if this had been a work of terrorism. It's not a pretty picture, actually.

Contrary to everything you might have been told, the Human Security Act of 2007 is NOT really an anti-terrorism measure, but a Terrorist's Bill of Rights. Senate Minority Leader AQUILINO "NENE" PIMENTEL along with his sidekick, the CPP NPA's newest recruit, fellow Senator Jamby Madrigal, made sure of that! They are primarily responsible for the most absurd flaws in Republic Act 9372, the Human Security Act of 2007, for example, :
Section 62 [Effectivity Clause] ..After the publication required above shall have been done, the Act shall take effect two (2) months after the elections are held in May 2007.

Thereafter, the provisions of this Act shall be automatically suspended one month before and two months after the holding of any election.
This is like telling the terrorists exactly when it would be advisable for them to commit terrorist crimes, like for example the bombing of malls, ports, airports, train and bus stations, or the kidnapping of missionaries like Giancarlo Bossi, the beheading of Marines, and of course the extortion, murder and cell site bombing activities of the New People's Army.

Right now for example, this very strange "part-time" law is in suspended animation for three months because of the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, scheduled for October 29. Thus, any criminal act that would otherwise be considered a terrorist act and thus be punishable under it which is committed between now and just before New Year's Eve, is NOT a terrorist act for the purposes of the law. This is not only strange and twisted, thanks to Pimentel and Comrade Madrigal, it is also possibly a fatal flaw in the statute which could be questioned in the Courts if and when it is ever applied, for bringing absurdity to the very concept of a crime.

Now let's take a careful look at Senator Pimentel's Press Release today defending a law to which he once bragged that he added over a hundred "human rights" amendments:
PRESS RELEASE: Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said the temporary suspension of the anti-terrorism law (Human Security Act) during the election season does not render law enforcement and security agencies helpless in going after terrorists.
Really?? But since the law is what defines terrorism as a crime and therefore, who qualifies as a terrorist for committing such crimes, and it so happens to be suspended in totality during this period, how in the world can the honorable sophistic Senator Pimentel make such a claim? There are NO crimes that can be considered terrorism during this period, and therefore no "terrorists" for the police to go after. The Press Release continues...
PRESS RELEASE: Pimentel said the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies can still rely on the Revised Penal Code and other applicable laws to file and prosecute criminal charges against terror suspects during the suspension of the effectivity of the HSA (Republic Act 9287) one month before and two months after the October 29 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.
True enough, but I notice he even got the damn number wrong and the release calls it Republic Act 9287 when it is RA 9372. But it certainly is a totally vacuous and superfluous statement for the good Senator to say that the cops can enforce the Revised Penal Code, since they are supposed to enforce it, with or without his say-so!
PRESS RELEASE: He was reacting to the criticism of security and justice officials of the executive branch that the HSA has been reduced to a toothless law during the election period, specially in the wake of last week's alleged bombing of the Glorietta 2 Mall in Makati City which was suspected to be the handiwork of terrorists.

"They are correct in saying that the Human Security Act is inoperable at this time. But this does not mean our law enforcers will be helpless in combating terrorism because there are other laws that they can apply. There is, for instance, the Revised Penal Code that they are presumed to be familiar with," the minority leader said.
Since it was his doing, he now defends this provision in the law as follows:
PRESS RELEASE: Pimentel explained that the temporary suspension of the HSA during the election period was incorporated by lawmakers to prevent a situation where unscrupulous political forces may take advantage of this law to harass, harm and even kill rival leaders especially from the opposition and progressive groups.

In other words, he said the suspension clause was intended to be a safeguard against a possible escalation of violence and extra-judicial killings which have been a scourge of society in recent years due to the failure of the political leaders to clamp down on rogue elements in the military and police.
Now this really takes the terrorist cake! The only thing the "temporary suspension" clause does is precisely to encourage those "unscrupulous political forces" like the murderous Abu Sayyaf and the extortionist NPA to take advantage of the law to "harass, harm and even kill" and to "escalate violence" during this period.

With nary a trace of shame or self-consciousness, Pimentel declares the police and military as the "rogue elements" responsible for extrajudicial killings in the country. Weren't those Basilan Beheadings for example "extra-judicial killings"?? Yet why are they given a special conduct pass such that they can escape being punished for terrorist acts during a period when it would be most devastating in fact for such terrorist individuals and organizations to be launching attacks on our democratic way of life--namely during elections?

Next I wonder what the following provision means for Pimentel's theory:
SEC. 49. Prosecution Under This Act Shall Be a Bar to Another Prosecution Under the Revised Penal Code or Any Special Penal Laws. - When a person has been prosecuted under a provision of this Act, upon a valid complaint or information or other formal charge sufficient in form and substance to sustain a conviction and after the accused had pleaded to the charge, the acquittal of the accused or the dismissal of the case shall be a bar to another prosecution for any offense or felony which is necessarily included in the offense charged under this Act.
But perhaps the most atrocious provision of the entire law is this one:
SEC. 50. Damages for Unproven Charge of Terrorism. – Upon acquittal, any person who is accused of terrorism shall be entitled to the payment of damages in the amount of Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00) for every day that he or she has been detained or deprived of liberty or arrested without a warrant as a result of such an accusation. The amount of damages shall be automatically charged against the appropriations of the police agency or the Anti-Terrorism Council that brought or sanctioned the filing of the charges against the accused. It shall also be released within fifteen (15) days from the date of the acquittal of the accused. The award of damages mentioned above shall be without prejudice to the right of the acquitted accused to file criminal or administrative charges against those responsible for charging him with the case of terrorism.
Here is why Nene Pimentel thinks it's okay for this law to be suspended for three months at a time around every election:
PRESS RELEASE: In fact, Pimentel said that his original position was that there was no need for a separate anti-terrorism law on the ground that the Revised Penal Code and other existing laws were sufficient to equip law enforcers with the legal weapon to combat terrorism. He said he had also warned that the enactment of the new law would only result to redundancy which is bound to cause confusion in the criminal justice system.
What an immoral, unprincipled hypocrite the Senate Minority leader turns out to be. Why in the world did he sign the law then, if he thinks it redundant and confusing? Why did he sign it and then call for its immediate repeal just days after promulgation? Why? Because he is, in the quaint idiom of our times, an utter idiotarian.

By the way, there are about 44 provisions that punish law enforcement agencies and tie their hands and feet with the threat of jail terms and financial penalties if they so much as violate any of the sancrosant Rights and Privileges of terrorist suspects also put in the law by Pimentel and Madrigal. For example, on the matter of electronic surveillance and wiretapping of terror suspects, which under the law can only be done under warrants from a special division of the Court of Appeals, Pimentel requires law enforcers under Section 11 to inform terrorist suspects that they have been surveilled, if no case of terrorism results after a total of 30 days:
Section 10 Effective Period of Judicial Authorization If no case is filed within the thirty (30)-day period, the applicant police or law enforcement official shall immediately notify the person subject of the surveillance, interception and recording of the termination of the said surveillance, interception and recording. The penalty of ten (10) years and one day to twelve (12) years of imprisonment shall be imposed upon the applicant police or law enforcement official who fails to notify the person subject of the surveillance, monitoring, interception and recording as specified above.
The other seeming absurdity in the law, which was put in by Jamby Madrigal is this one:
Section 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.

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.
Senator Pimentel is thus the Founding Father of the Magna Carta of Terrorism in the Philippines.

It is time for thoroughgoing review of the Human Security Act for the purpose of expunging from it most of Pimentel and Comrade Madrigal's handiwork and the adoption of a real anti-terrorism law without all the provisions that actually protect, encourage, abet and promote the terrorist agenda of violent nihilists, craven kidnap for ransom gangs, and the rest of the organized criminal syndicates posing as "revolutionaries" and "national liberators."

I think that contrary to Pimentel's claims ,the law in its present state unduly hampers the anti-terrorism efforts of the government and our allies. His reasons for it, place politicians and their interests (as well as murderous rivalries) above the human security needs of ordinary citizens.

5 comments:

Cocoy said...

Wait you mean to say... that suppose the glorietta thing wasn't a gas explosion, but an actual terrorist action-- the government can't use the "powers" of the human security act?

why do we have a law that say a thing is a crime for X number of days in a year, and not for certain days? you're right, it's like saying, its hunting season! if terrorism is a crime, then it should be punished all the time. it should protect ordinary citizens who become sheep for slaughter.

if we already have a law called the revised penal code... why then did we have to have our lawmakers write this hsa, when the old one is "good enough"? why not just amend the old one?

you're right, this is all so idiotic. if there is a need to make a better law, then it should be done as soon as possible. it should be made and that law should help government hunt down those who slaughter ordinary citizens.

DJB Rizalist said...

cocoy,
my take on it is that terrorism is like organized crime. Just as the Mafia commits all sorts of component crimes, like murder, extortion, etc. the whole "family" is yet greater than the sum of the parts. thus the way terrorism is defined in the RP, there has to be crime against the revised penal code committed, but with a greater objective of advancing whatever the greater political or ideological cause happens to be. while it is true we can prosecute the component crimes, we would be missing the greater point if that is all we did. We have to go after the motivating center, the head so to speak of the arms and legs that are doing the dirty deeds.

Cocoy said...

djb,

interesting about the whole mafia analogy--- which i think is right on. i have a question though. i remember reading, wasn't Al Capone sentenced not because of his Mafia activities but because of tax evasion. Couldn't say, a conviction, any conviction for that matter that lands these people in jail, is for the lack of a better term "good enough"? somewhat like a fallback position for our law enforcement people? the point that i'm trying to make is to do what it takes to get justice.

i do get your point and i very much agree with you that there must be a definition for terrorism and equal punishment because of the severity of the crime is so brutal, it can not go unpunished. That said, I think terrorists, often just hide behind their "ideology" and at the heart of the matter don't recognize bargaining, negotiation or proper discourse, they just want to see destruction and we've got to go straight on and cut the head of this beast. Our law enforcement and military would have to have all the proper tools at their disposal to fight this and we shouldn't tie their hands especially when they have a job to do.

DJB Rizalist said...

cocoy,
consider the case of the mafia again, never mind al capone. before the rico statutes were enacted, it was very frustrating for law enforcement because organized crime families always insulated the mafia bosses (capi) from the foot soldiers (soldati) by having several layers of sub-bosses (capos) between the master minds and the enforcers. Thus, police could never get at the masterminds since they were never even the ones who gave direct orders for the crimes like murder, illegal gambling, bootlegging and extortion, etc.

It was only when the organized nature of a mafia family itself was recognized that such bosses could be arrested for the crimes committed by the soldiers.

This is what inspired us to apply the idea of rico to terrorism as a form of organized crime for political purposes, where the rico statutes criminalize organized crime for economic purposes.

this way, someone like joma can be held responsible for acts of the npa half way around the world, if and when cpp npa are declared terrorist organizations, as they have been by the US and the EU.

thanks for the observations.

Thus "ordinary" murder under the revised penal code is punished less than murder committed for terroristic purposes to coerce the govt to give in to unlawful, usually unconstitutional, demands such as giving up territory.

It is the purposes for which murder done by terrorists that we are seeking to punish and prevent with higher penalties.

Ordinary murderers usually do it out of passion or greed, not to overthrow a govt or social system.

Cocoy said...

Well, i get it better now. thanks!