By: Erika Tapalla
QUEZON CITY, Philippines --- Ateneo de Manila University Student Council President Karl Satinitigan encourages dialogue among constituents regarding the Human Security Act (HSA), a.k.a. Anti-Terror Law.
After meeting with other local universities, Satinitigan says, "Having a stand may not necessarily be the best way to address the issue. After all, the Human Security Act has its merits and bad points and it may be necessary to soberly review it first.”
For the next few weeks, resource persons will discuss this issue with the student council with dates and venues to be announced. So far, the Ateneo Human Rights Center, Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan, and Kabataan Partylist, to name a few, have expressed great interest in the subject matter.
Considering the concerns of bishops and human rights advocates, Satinitigan believes that students at the very least should be aware of the issue, and vocalize their opinions so as to come up with constructive means to deal with the national security issue.
“We’re figuring out newer, more effective means of spreading the word, ” states Satinitigan, “The challenge is to have something constructive out of all of this.”
Effective July 14 2007, The HSA urges protection against terrorism.
Law states, “It is State policy to protect life, liberty, and property from acts of terrorism,…dangerous to the national security of the country and to the welfare of the people, and to make terrorism a crime against the Filipino people, against humanity, and against the law of nations.”
Although there is no clear cut definition for the term ‘terrorism’ shared in the international community, Sec. 3 of the HSA illustrates examples of terrorism. Some samples include rebellion or insurrection, coup d’Etat, piracy, and mutiny in Philippine waters.
However, Chair of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) Jose Diokno, states in an article, “The HSA is so vague that it can be used against just about anyone, including you and me. The law is so sweeping that it can be used to curtain the rights of persons merely suspected of terrorism, even if they have been granted bail because the evidence of their guilt is not strong. And the law is so dangerous that, unless repealed, it will destroy the Bill of Rights of the Constitution and rip apart the very fabric of our democratic system.”
As a student body, Satinitigan stresses that it is the Sanggunian’s role to get the students involved in the national issue and present the entirety of the subject matter to facilitate free thinking and judgment.