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PIA Press Release
2007/04/26

Commentary: Terror victims have human rights, too

By Bong Pedalino

Tacloban City (26 April) -- When the Human Security Act of 2007, otherwise known as the Anti-Terror Law, takes effect in July, 2007, there is every reason to believe its actual implementation will be stopped right in its tracks, even before it has started.

This is the logical implication of the stinging rebuke Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno made lately, when he described the global war on terror as “mindless” and the Philippine government’s response “knee-jerk.”

With all due respect to the country’s top jurist, his strong words at a commencement exercise was disturbing, simply because the institution he heads is the most powerful when it comes to interpreting the laws of the land.

***

The High Court Chief puts more weight to the human rights of terror suspects, which can be easily abused by trigger-happy operatives of the State, with war on terror as a perfect shield.

The emphasis is understandable, coming from a man of his stature, who knows the concept of justice more than anyone else.

But there lies the injustice, and the glaring inequality in-between the spaces of his speech: Victims, like suspects, have human rights as well that have to be repaired and reasonably compensated.

***

Justices are normally reserved, even aloof, reactive, not pro-active, and away from the spotlight so as not to send mixed signals or false expectations ahead in the event a delicate and sensitive issue of interpreting laws is brought to their attention for judicial action.

With Chief Justice Puno’s critical views made public, however, those who promote terror in all its sadistic, barbaric, and cruelest forms (the beheading of seven innocent civilians in southern Mindanao is one grisly example) can find an ally in him -- all in the pretext of violation on basic human rights and civil liberties.

In such a scenario, the Supreme Court, the last bulwark of democracy, may find itself at the mercy of heated passion, no longer the authority and the esteemed reservoir of wise counsel and Solomonic wisdom learned through the ages.

Pray, God forbid that to happen -- in July, especially, or three months from now when the Anti-Terror Law shall take its due course.

***

LOCAL FRONT: During the inauguration of the newly-concreted Panaon island highway last week at San Francisco town, DPWH Secretary Manuel Bonoan hinted that after the province’s major highways are cemented, their next focus are countryside roads. This information was music to the ears of Rep. Roger Mercado who has been pushing hard the past three years to have provincial roads permanently paved. With the DPWH Boss’ implied assurance, Cong. Mercado was optimistic the circumferential road in Panaon (the other side of the island facing the pacific ocean) and the cross-country road from Saint Bernard to Hinunangan can be attended soon. But much still depends on the outcome of the May 14 elections.

ODDLY YOURS: Anywhere we stand on earth we may look stationary. But viewed from space we are actually spinning at a speed of 1,675 kilometers per hour. From the sun’s viewpoint, the earth is orbiting around it at a dizzying speed of 97,000 km/h though admittedly we, earthlings, do not notice it and we do not even care. At the Andromeda Galaxy, if an alien out there is looking, we are spinning, orbiting and spiraling across the Milky Way at an average speed of 853,000 km/h. But even that awesome, fast and furious speed may not seem so fast at all -- because the universe is in a state of continuous expansion, making it impossible to measure how are we speeding, really. (PIA Southern Leyte) [top]

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