Thursday, July 12, 2007

Human Security Act of 2007 - Invasion of privacy

Human Security Act (HSA) with its 62 sections is aptly titled An Act to Secure the State and Protect the People from Terrorism. The law can be loosely classified into three main parts: Sections 7 to 16 cover the procedure for the surveillance of suspects and interception and recording of communications; Sections 27 to 43 deal with the process for judicial authorization to examine bank deposits, accounts and records; and the rest of the provisions.

Under Section 2, its major policy is for the State to protect life, liberty and property from acts of terrorism and condemns terrorism as a crime against humanity and the law of nations that is inimical and dangerous to the national security of the country and to the welfare of the people. It calls for a comprehensive approach comprising political, economic, diplomatic, military and legal means duly taking into account the root causes of terrorism without acknowledging these as justifications for terrorist and/or criminal activities. At all times, the State shall uphold the basic rights and fundamental liberties of the people as enshrined in the constitution.

A person is guilty of the crime of terrorism if he commits:

1) Piracy in general and mutiny in the high seas or in the Philippine waters;

2) Rebellion or insurrection;

3) Coup dtat;

4) Murder;

5) Kidnapping and serious illegal detention;

6) Crimes involving destruction; or violates the law on

7) Arson;

8) Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act of 1990;

9) Atomic Energy Regulatory and Liability Act of 1968;

10) Antihijacking Law;

11) Antipiracy and Antihighway Robbery Law of 1974; and,

12) Decree Codifying the Laws on Illegal and Unlawful Possession, Manufacture, Dealing in, Acquisition or Disposition of Firearms, Ammunitions or Explosives;

thereby sowing and creating a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace, in order to coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand. The penalty is 40 years of imprisonment without parole. (Section 3)

Note that the HSA does not define the crime of terrorism. The reason is that terrorism is sui generis, a class by itself. There is no universally accepted definition. The law rather takes a criminal law approach that can be described as Revised Penal Code or Special Law plus. This means that in addition to proving the elements of the crimes enumerated above beyond reasonable doubt, the same evidentiary standard must be met that it was committed to sow and create terror, to force government to do an illegal act.

Does this not make it more difficult for law enforcers to build a case for terrorism and tougher for prosecutors to prove their case? Yes, it does and the law provides measures for the implementing agencies to employ and to respond to the situation bearing in mind that the courts at all material times exercise the power to check, control and to punish erring or abusive agents.

For the law to take effect, fast forward to the last section which provides for a special effectivity clause never before seen in our statutes. It requires the law to be published in three (3) newspapers of national circulation; three (3) newspapers of local circulation, one each in Ilocos Norte, Baguio City and Pampanga; three (3) newspapers of local circulation, one each in Cebu, Iloilo and Tacloban; and three (3) newspapers of local circulation, one each in Cagayan de Oro, Davao and General Santos City. Further, the title of the law and its provisions defining the acts of terrorism that are punished shall be aired everyday at primetime for seven (7) days, morning, noon and night over three (3) national television and radio networks; three (3) radio and television networks, one each in Cebu, Tacloban and Iloilo; and in five (5) radio and television networks, one each in Lanao del Sur, Cagayan de Oro, Davao City, Cotabato City and Zamboanga City. The publication in the newspapers of local circulation and the announcements over local radio and television networks shall be done in the dominant language of the community.

Ordinarily, publication of a law in the Official Gazette or a newspaper of general circulation is sufficient. Due to the nature of the law, our legislators deem it necessary to impose the special tri-media publication. No one can be ignorant of the existence of the law and no one is exempt from compliance therewith. It is however only upon fulfillment of the last section (Section 62) that the law shall take effect two (2) months after the May 14, 2007, elections and that is on July 14, 2007. Finally, the law shall be automatically suspended one month before and two months after the holding of any election. This is not open season for terrorists to carry out their activities but rather merely holds off applying the HSA lest political color be lent during the 90-day period. The terrorists continue to be liable for their acts or omissions to the full extent of the law.

---- Story Continued tomorrow. Check for the continuation... ----

I guess in exchange for safety, they have that law for it. but, we know how our officials here in the Philippines do their job. how can we have an assurance that they wont use and abuse that act in favor of them. Politicians have many rivals and enemies, what if that politician used it against his enemy? wouldnt that be unfair???

I guess, for me, they dont have to make that law if they implement stricter rules and push a higher conviction rate...


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