Human Security Act of 2007 Signed; Landmark Law a Weapon to Fight Int'l Terrorism GMA Assures Law Won't Be Used against Critics

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Byline: DAVID CAGAHASTIAN

President Arroyo yesterday signed into law the landmark Human Security Act of 2007 or the anti-terrorism bill, cementing the country's unwavering commitment to fight global terrorism.

The President said in a statement: "The anti-terror law is a landmark in the battle against evil waged by all freedom-loving Filipinos and allies in the world. It upgrades our preemptive capability to check the conspiracies of harm and mass murder, and contain the movement of arms and funds to sow mayhem."

Members of the diplomatic community and the international business sector who witnessed the signing ceremonies in Malacanang welcomed the country's anti-terrorism law and expressed optimism that the measure would allow authorities to thwart terrorist attacks at once and uphold human rights.

Mrs. Arroyo assured the public the extra powers to be given by the anti-terrorism law to law enforcement agencies would not be used to crack down on her opponents and critics, and would not result in human rights abuses by the military.

"Law abiding Filipinos have nothing to fear in this law for it is a weapon that shall be wielded against bombers and not protesters," Mrs. Arroyo said.

The anti-terrorism law has a provision that allows authorities to detain without charges suspected terrorists for a maximum of three days, during which they should be presented to proper judicial authorities or a penalty of 10 to 12 years of imprisonment would be slapped on the arresting police or military personnel.

Malacanang said the law contains enough safeguards against abuses by authorities.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, also co- chairman of the Anti-Terrorism Task Force, cited provisions of the law that compel the government to pay damages for unproven charges of terrorism, including a provision which would indemnify wrongfully detained terrorist suspects P500,000 for each day of detention without a warrant on charges of terrorism or conspiracy to commit terrorism.

The anti-terrorism law also provides the Court of Appeals to set-up a special court on terrorism cases to issue an authorization to the government to examine and freeze assets and bank accounts of charged terrorist suspects for a maximum of 30 days.

The authorization is renewable for a maximum of another 30 days, but unauthorized or malicious examination and freezing of assets and bank accounts of a terrorist suspect carries a penalty of 10 to 12 years of imprisonment, and an indemnification of P500,000 for each day a terrorist suspect's assets and bank accounts are frozen or seized. …