Wednesday, October 12, 2005

NR1012:2 Govt empowering PNP, AFP to violate civil right; US warship in Zamboanga

Mula Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin B. Beltran
News Releases October 12, 2005
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, chief of staff
Celphone number 09213907362

Macapagal-Arroyo govt forcing passage of administrative and legislative police-state measures; in the hands of the PNP and AFP, anti-terror bill weapon of destruction of civil rights

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that Malacanang’s intent to push a series of administrative and legislative measures giving the government’s political police the sort of arbitrary power normally associated with fascist regimes or military juntas should be thwarted. He said that in the hands of the PNP and AFP, these authoritarian measures are sure to be abused to the severe detriment of civil and human rights.

Beltran said that through the anti-terrorism bill, Executive Order 464 and the calibrated preemptive response, the illegitimate and corrupt administration is darkly seeking the power to detain and question people without charge or trial. The Philippine National Police (PNP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) can raid anyone’s home or office, at any hour of the day or night, and forcibly take them away, interrogate and strip-search them and hold them incommunicado, effectively indefinitely.

“These measures, especially the anti-terrorism bill represent a fundamental assault on essential civil liberties. They give the security and intelligence agencies unfettered arbitrary and repressive power, marking a dramatic step toward the implementation of authoritarian rule. Those detained have no right to know why they are being hauled off for interrogation. If they resist, violent force, including lethal force, can be used against them. If they refuse to answer any question or hand over any material that PNP or AFP or any armed authorities of the government alleges they possess, they face imprisonment.

There is the serious danger that entirely innocent, ordinary people, who have committed no crime, will be subjected to intense political repression. They do not have to be suspected of committing any offence. The PNP or AFP, using the anti-terrorism bill, need only assert that they may have some information relating to “terrorism”, regardless of whether any terrorist act has actually occurred or is even suspected of being planned,” he said.

The veteran labor leader turned legislator said that the potential for political harassment and victimization is vast. “The definition of terrorism in the bill is so broad that anyone who knows about a protest or demonstration planned for a “political,ideological or religious cause” could be rounded up for interrogation,” he said.

Beltran pointed out that given the bill’s sweeping provisions, “and given the rising paranoia of the administration” - a school or university teacher could be detained simply because they have a student in their class who has written an essay on terrorism. ”An investigative journalist or researcher could be interrogated and forced to hand over documents or notes relating to terrorism. Neighbours, workmates, acquaintances or relatives of suspects could be detained for questioning, possibly on flimsy, false accusations made by anonymous sources. Political or social activists could be taken into custody on allegations of knowing about terrorist plans,” he said.

Beltran also said that the Terrorism Act, the CPR and EO 464 are very significant departures from established law. The government is rushing forward with the intent of protecting itself from the legitimate protests and calls for Macapagal-Arroyo’s resignation and removal from office.

“Democratic rights forged a century of struggle are being abolished one by one, and in the most insidious ways. Unlike other criminal legislation, under the anti-Terrorism Act people can be imprisoned or punished for ideas, or knowledge, rather than acts. Moreover, they can be detained on mere suspicion, without a specific charge. How different is this from the Nazi regime? Anyone can be rounded up for interrogation and detention under a law that is so vague that no one can tell whether they have infringed it or not. The Act’s language is deliberately ill defined, highly subjective and political, making it easy to manipulate,” he concluded.#

Solon calls for investigations into US warship presence in Zamboanga; says Anti-Terror bill might legitimize US military involvement in Philippine internal security affairs

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that he will a resolution calling for immediate investigations into the reported presence of a US military ship along Basilan Island in Zamboanga, saying that if the US military ship could well be violating Philippine territorial and sovereignty laws. He also said that the US ship’s presence strongly suggests the ongoing, illegal direct involvement of US military forces in local operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“US military forces have no legal right to participate much less lead military operations in the country regardless of whom they say they are going after. The terrorist attacks in the region – most particularly the recent ones in Bali – were directly aimed at the US government and its chauvinist, anti-Muslim so-called campaign against terrorism. The continuing meddling and interference of the United States government in Philippine internal affairs is what’s turning the Philippines into a magnet for anti-US terrorists,” he said.

Beltran scored anew the Department of National Defense and the AFP leadership for keeping the presence of the said US warship a secret. “It’s doubtful that they’ve been unaware. If anything, the DND and the AFP on directives from Malacanang are fully cooperating with US military forces in t he country, even allowing them to be involved in clandestine military operations masked as relief or medical missions,” he said.

Beltran reminded the public about the controversial case of an American marine, Reggie Black forcibly entering a civilian house in Basilan in 2002 and shooting a Muslim Buyong-Buyong Isnijal who was merely suspected of being an Abu Sayyaf supporter. Isnijal was shot in front of his wife and children. The International Solidarity Mission (ISM) fact-finding group exposed the shooting, but the US Embassy refused to issue a statement on the matter.

The veteran labor leader turned legislator also said that that the joint military operations between the AFP and US military forces continue unchecked, and thus the reports of human rights violations against civilian Muslims in Mindanao also worsen. This included illegal arrests and detention. In their blind determination to round up terrorists, US military forces aided by the AFP have long resorted to arresting Muslim civilians. A visit to the various jail cells in Basilan and Zamboanga would reveal how terrible the violations are against the civil rights of our Muslim brothers,” he said. #


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