BAGUIO CTIY (Mar. 31) — There is no chance for peace with the passage of the Human Security Act more popularly known as the Anti-Terrorism Bill (ATB), a veteran human rights lawyer and activist said in a forum today, March 31, held here at the Bishop’s House.
Atty. Neri Colmenares, spokesperson of the Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (Codal) and Bayan Muna third nominee said the passage of the ATB made peace talks between government and rebel groups impossible. He said that aside from the general rule of government not to negotiate with terrorists, the said law criminalized negotiation with groups declared as terrorists such as the New People’s Army (NPA), Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). He also said the passage of the law insults the rebel groups.
“If I were an MILF, why should I sit down and talk with someone who calls me a terrorist,” he said.
The said law provides that any government official who would negotiate with terrorists would suffer six to 12 years imprisonment.
He further said that the law only proves that the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) government has no intention to continue the peace process.
“Under the GMA regime, there would be no genuine peace process, to stop of political killings because she does not respect the law and human rights,” he stressed.
Colmenares, however, said that the ATB was passed because of the dictates of the United States (US). He explained that the US government is the author of the anti-terror law.
He added that the opposition led senate would have junked the said law if not for pressures from the US government.
“The anti-terror law is beyond GMA. This law was passed because the United States said so. Are we going to allow our children to suffer the evil threats of this law because the US said so?” he stressed.
There is still hope
“There is still hope for the repeal of the anti-terror law in congress and in the SC,” Colmenares said.
He challenged all Filipinos to make a stand against the said law because only a strong mass protest would ensure the abrogation of the anti-terror law. “Unless we become united and demand the repeal of this law, it would be effective come July,” he said.
Moreover, Atty. Reynaldo Cortes, chairperson of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) and a candidate for city council, called on the public to vote for congressmen who would protect human rights and block laws that trample on civil liberties. # Kim Quitasol for NORDIS