Human Security Act: ‘Draconian, Fascist’

Moreover, the PPT looks at the picture in a comprehensive, holistic way. It relates, for instance, human rights violations with the social and political ills in Philippine society and to the greater picture or greater universe of the role of U.S. in other countries in the perpetuation of these violations. This is something that no single legal institution or entity, whether in the Philippines or even in the United Nations, can cover. Thus the limitations of the traditional fora are answered by the PPT.

However, the PPT is not a court of law, its recommendations and findings cannot be enforced legally in terms of punishment or mechanism that is in place. But that apparent drawback is also its strength. Enforcement should not be confined alone in legal terms. Enforcement can be more effective if it comes in the form of international opinion, diplomatic pressure, moral persuasion which are far more effective than the limited legal niceties that the existing local and international remedies purvey. At the PPT, you cannot compel the government to appear. If they appear then they recognize the competence and authority of the PPT and if they don’t, then they are hiding something. One way or the other, it helps in enforcing the value of the PPT as a forum that goes beyond the limited local remedies.

As a whole, the PPT has its historical and very highly political and important value in terms of addressing the specific question of human rights violations both in the political, economic, social, cultural including the rights of the people to liberation and self-determination. Note that the first session on the Philippines, the PPT was instrumental in helping create the moral persuasion and the political and diplomatic pressure against the Marcos dictatorship. As regards Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, there will be a time for reckoning.

R: My last question: What’s Oplan Bantay Laya compared to preceding Oplans?

O: Oplan Bantay Laya is the framework and the justification for the military and the police to wreak havoc on the rights of the people. It is supposed to be a counter-insurgency program to defeat the revolutionary movement, but it targets civilians who are suspected supporters and sympathizers of the revolutionary movement . This is contrary to international humanitarian law that protects civilians, especially unarmed individuals. In an armed conflict, you can only go after the combatants. Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that the victims are really communist sympathizers or communists themselves. But the point is, you don’t attack people who are unarmed, you don’t barge into their dining room and shoot them in front of their children or shoot a target while he is holding his baby or while he is about to go to a midnight mass during Christmas day. You don’t do that!

Oplan Bantay Laya is just a continuation of several Oplans before – Katatagan, Oplan Lambat Bitag, etc. But this is more vicious, it’s more comprehensive, because it targets specifically unarmed legal democratic activists and progressive individuals.(

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