Revise anti-terror law, bishops tell Philippines Govt

Warning that a new anti-terrorism law could result in "gross injustice", Philippines Catholic bishops have called on the government to revise the law saying that the definition of terrorist activities is too broad and that concessions to the nation's military are "practically unlimited".

AsiaNews reports that the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines yesterday called on the government to revise a new anti-terrorism law which will enter into force on 15 July, saying the unlimited powers it confers upon the army "are creating panic and insecurity among the population, and could become a cause of gross injustice".

A statement to this effect was released by the president of the conference, Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, during a press meeting at the end of the plenary assembly of bishops, which took place in Manila: "Time is running out, yet there is a need to talk, discuss and review the new law prior to its effect."

The bishops said the definition of "terrorist activities" in the law is unjust: it is "too wide and allows the government to include anything". What's more, "the concessions made to the military should be reviewed, they are practically unlimited".

According to Section 3 of the text, "terrorist activities" are all those actions "causing widespread and extraordinary fear and panic" and they may be punished by "up to 40 years in prison".

Further, Section 19 allows the "allows arbitrary detention of a suspect for more than three days, house arrest even if not upheld by a judge and a ban on all kinds of movement".

The bishops "as pastors of the people, have to look more into the morality of this law. We feel it is unjust and call for a review that will permit dialogue and social consultation," the bishops conclude.

Bishops urge government to review dreaded anti-terror law (AsiaNews, 9/7/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines
Archbishop Angel Lagdameo Blog

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10 Jul 2007