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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

 

Roxas warns against HSA 
sans implementing rules


IMPLEMENTING the Human Security Act without a proper set of guidelines and its implementing rules and regulations poses a danger to the security and human rights of every Filipinos, Sen. Mar Roxas said on Tuesday, reacting to news that President Arroyo has announced that the Antiterror Law will take effect as scheduled on July 15.

“The government should not implement the Human Security Act without a set of implementing rules and regulations. Doing so would be like constructing a building without the architectural, electrical and mechanical plans being approved. Eventually, due to poor planning and a weak foundation, the building will collapse and affect innocent people,” Roxas said in a statement.

“To proceed with the July 15 deadline without a set of IRRs defeats human rights because the line between national security imperatives and human freedom may not be clear to every law enforcer.

“I urge the government to go slow and do it right. Better to err on the side of human rights than to breed tyranny.

“The IRR should provide clear and definite boundaries on how the provisions of the HSA are to be implemented by our men in uniform and prosecutors.

“The government already suffers from highly negative public perceptions in regard to its human-rights record. To push the limits further would only breed more fear and anger among the people.

“For a law that allows wiretapping, house arrests, prohibition to travel, and seizures of properties, a set of IRRs will shield the people against abuse.

“I am disappointed why the responsible agencies did not finish the IRRs in time for the law’s implementation. This signals a lackadaisical approach to vital constitutional issues. I ask the national security establishment to shape up and take the fundamental law more seriously.

“The nation will stand behind any measure that genuinely keeps our homes and streets safe, but is deeply conscious of the harm done by a climate of impunity occasioned by unresolved killings and disappearances.

“I urge the government to open a full-blown consultation with all sectors to hammer out a set of IRRs that respond to constitutional integrity and national unity.

“I voted against the HSA’s passage in the Senate because I believe the fight against terror requires urgent operational reforms over measures that could impair civil liberties.

“For example, the data­bases of key departments and agencies [i.e. the Department of National Defense, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Bureau of Immigration, the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation] on the anti­terror front need to be able to ‘talk to each other’ and share crucial information to identify bombers, sharpen the manhunt and tighten the noose against terrorists.”

Roxas ended his statement with a call to “to address these operational gaps first before implementing a stringent HSA that could fall flat from the lack of public support, or run wayward in the hands of misguided law enforcers or faulty and inadequate intelligence or information systems.”

   
 

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Severino O. Frayna Jr., Benjie Dela Rosa
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