The Arroyo government does not need more powers to confront terrorism, it needs less of it. On the other hand, the Filipino people must not surrender their rights to confront terrorism, it needs more of it.
BY BENJIE OLIVEROS
The alleged foiled plot of terrorists to bomb commercial planes shuttling from Heathrow Airport in Britain to the United States last August 6 sent the government’s alarm bells ringing once again. Security tightened at airports, piers, bus terminals, and even at LRT and MRT stations. The commuting public was told not to bring with them in planes, passenger ships, buses and commuter trains perfumes, bottled water, toothpaste and the like. Those caught with these would be asked to use these in front of security personnel before being allowed to board. So unless you want to show off your favourite perfume or cologne; drink water even if you are not thirsty; or brush your teeth in full view of other passengers, one must heed this public warning.
But much more “embarrassing” is the renewed government pitch for the passage of the proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill (ATB). Sen. Aquilino Pimentel hit the nail on the head when he said that unless the spate of political killings is stopped, the proposed bill should be rejected.
Malacañang, the presidential palace, reacted by claiming that there is no connection between the passage of the ATB and political killings, and that it is doing everything to put a stop to what Amnesty International called as “politically-motivated pattern of killings.”
The evil connection
As of August 17, Karapatan has recorded 729 cases of political killings, 181 forcible disappearances, and 350 victims of frustrated killings. An additional 18 activists were killed and six disappeared since President Arroyo delivered her recent state of the nation address where she praised Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, tagged as the “butcher” by human rights groups and people’s organizations, for allegedly being responsible for the spate of political killings in regions where he assumed command of army units, and condemned political killings “in the harshest terms possible.”