Friday, September 11, 2009
The spate of bombings across the globe after the ill-fated 9/11 New York terror attacks reminds us that the government cannot just sit around and take chances regarding the sustenance of national protection and security for all citizens. Whether it is high-end London or busy Spain or touristy Bali, there seems to be no sacred cows for democratically notorious terrorists, and the Philippines is not one exemption. Learning from the shocking vulnerability of our superpower colonizer, we reassess the extent to which our security standards measure up in order to safeguard every individual in our nation. The possibility that we may be the next target has rendered us cognizant of the grave necessity to beef up our lawmaking and implementation means.
The September 11, 2001 air hijacking impressed upon us that in championing our constitution-enshrined freedoms, we must enable ourselves terror-proof at all costs. In the process of upholding our many-splendored rights, the challenge of maintaining equilibrium should exist between the material capacity of the security forces in thwarting attacks and the need for the government to protect our liberties as stipulated in the supreme law of the land. Our basic rights should not be subordinated in spite of terroristic acts, as opposed to what is perceived to be infringement of human rights in United States of America’s paranoia-instigated efforts to single out and exterminate terrorists. In continued response to the terror threat around the world, our law enforcers and security agents should be supplied immediately with materials to determine and curb terror activities and to dismantle terrorist groups. There is a suggestion that terrorism is a pressing problem because it breeds insecurity among civilians, and so, only a trusty safeguard from this despicable misdeed can generate and guarantee true freedom.
Since the government is engaged to cooperating with regional and international equivalents, concerned departments from the police, judiciary and prosecution officials across the nation should be committed to a continuous training that recognizes the multi-ethnicity in various communities. The government is called upon to give premium on this training process and to render a means that empowers minority spokespersons, whose opinions will be considered regarding the most effective way to weed out minority discrimination in the upholding of the new laws. Racism and other malevolent forms of systemic bigotry may be found in the individual levels up to institutions, so an effective education should be able to address the issue of minority harassment in the supposed fulfillment of national security.
A restrictive meaning of terrorist, terrorist acts and terrorist groups should be defined in order to ascertain the very body of terrorism that is an armed individual’s or group’s threat or resort to violence and armament against an unarmed individual or group for purposes including but not limited to state, politics, religion, race, society and economics. Any allusion to trading activity, business, critical stance, spoken dissent or boycott of monetary and other enterprise be taken away from the meaning of terrorist, terrorist groups and terrorist acts. It is suggested that in legislating an anti-terror bill, the Senate, being the premier legislative body, should grow sensitive in excluding the term preventative arrest inasmuch as this is susceptible to perversion because Filipinos, like any other nationals, are humans given to racially indiscriminate urges. The criminal justice system must see to it that should this arrest be conducted, monitoring and report will maintain a zero-abuse policy.
Foreign intelligence should be defined as classified information that is threat-free and as for those with threat-relevant components, the directorial mandate should go beyond limits. The authorities should not only be able to collect intelligence provided for rgeir members leading to the arrest of a suspect, but also gather supplementary information that will convict the same. While these information get passed for evidences to be used in court cases, intelligence supplied to the police should not be taken for necessary evidences.
The Philippine government should design a screening system that will exempt no one, not even passport-carrying Americans. As we know, aviation and transportation system security must be prioritized since many individuals are catered by these important facilities. Travelers’ identity should be thoroughly verified before gaining access to enter the Philippines, with regular commuters showing minimal identification while first-time and speed travelers subjected to tighter measures upon passage. Database information must be regularly updated with back-up research and development in order to fortify technological reliability on secured identification. Sources of identification from birth certificates to driver’s licenses should be standardized by the government to respond to this need for secured identification.
While the fundamental right to privacy and its corollary freedoms (of speech, assembly, expression and the like) should not be superseded in the passing of the anti-terror bill, a step to limit privacy rights should be considered on a case-to-case basis and within its very merits. It is a challenge how we can go about in answering our need for self-protection without jeopardizing our basic freedom, but the limitation to privacy right should be applied only in terms that will correspond to our quest for safety and combat against terrorism. The restriction must prove beneficial security-wise and its demonstrative measure should not appear encompassing to less and violated privacy just so the end goal may be attained.
Thus, I absolutely recommend criminal justice training with human rights sensitivity, strengthened intelligence and screening system and tolerably-defined privacy in order to succeed in our drive to combat terrorism without sacrificing our constitutional freedoms. The first recommendation is our urgent answer to the reduction of terror risks without our security police harassing our multi-cultural communities or our rights undermined. The second is our response to our need to upgrade mechanism in the face or real disastrous threat while the last is to provide minimal probe into our identification—whether in information technology form or otherwise—for as long as it answers the ultimate purpose of protection and not when it entails characteristic invasion of our privacy.
The implementation of this set of proposals should begin with our legislature and defense departments since the former is currently engaged in drafting the anti-terror bill, sensitive to the fundamental rights to privacy, and the latter is presently involved in protecting the populace with their security-related activities. The judiciary, meanwhile, should be on guard regarding the propensity of violated rights and must ensure that in the process of fighting terrorism, the people’s freedoms are respected by security authorities. The government must optimize scarce resources by appraising national assets (i.e. transportation) necessitating security and defense, must apply practical and efficient means to exert the effort, and must design funding for intelligence and screening. Ultimately, the Filipino people are enjoined to be vigilant in monitoring the unhampered exercise of everyone’s basic rights and in assisting the government—by reporting intelligence and alerting it regarding terror criminals—in keeping up a terror-free Philippines.
Terrorism is the most terrible manifestation of human rights violation, and it is a major problem for all of us. If we do nothing to stop it, we let evil persist in our midst. We are responsible to defending our fundamental rights, and we must act upon this by taking necessary course of the proposed actions. Every one of us aspires action, and this also holds true to the rest of the global community, but by taking legal steps in combating threats to national security, we show the world that we have a strong, active commitment in curtailing terrorism.