SC chief PUNO says US ‘War on Terror’ mindless

Maybe there is something about a Supreme Court Justice’s robes that brings out the intelligent capabilities of a man. Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno denounced the US War on Terror and its terrible effects on the human rights and justice system in the wold, especially in developing countries like the Philippines.So what is happening? Is the Puno family distancing itself from the Arroyo family? Pray, tell.


FROM:    Inquirer.NET

Headlines / Nation

SC chief says war on terror mindless

RP rights violations linked to US strategy

By Leila Salaverria
Last updated 05:41am (Mla time) 04/23/2007
MANILA, Philippines — Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno has denounced as “mindless” the war on terrorism, saying the US strategy to root out terrorists anywhere has led to violations of human rights in the Philippines.

In an impassioned plea for respect of human rights, the country’s top jurist also warned that a state hobbled by credibility problems and corruption would not be able to protect civil liberties.

“The war on terrorism has inevitable spillover effects on human rights all over the world, especially in countries suspected (of) being used as havens of terrorists,” Puno said. He added this had led to the taking of legal shortcuts.

“These shortcuts have scarred the landscape of [human] rights in the Philippines,” he said.

The United States has hailed the Philippines as a major ally in its war on terror in Asia and has been training Filipino troops in the campaign against foreign-backed extremists operating in southern Philippines.

“The threats to our national security and human rights will be aggravated if we have a state weakened internally by a government hobbled by corruption, struggling with credibility, battling the endless insurgence of the left and the right, and by a state weakened externally by pressure exerted by creditor countries, by countries where our trade comes from, by countries that supply our military and police armaments,” Puno said.

“A weak state cannot fully protect the rights of its citizens within its borders just as a state without economic independence cannot protect the rights of its citizens who are abroad from the exploitation of more powerful countries.”

Puno spoke at the commencement exercises of the University of the East last week, and a copy of his speech was e-mailed to reporters by the Supreme Court information office.

Eliminating the evil

Puno said that terrorism was terrible enough “but the mindless, knee-jerk reaction to extirpate the evil is more discomforting.”

He added that the “quickie solution is to unfurl the flag, sing the national anthem, and issue the high-pitched call to arms for the military and the police to use their weapons under the theme ‘victory at all costs.’”

He said laws limiting individual rights in the name of state security had been passed.

“To put constitutional cosmetics to the military-police muscular efforts, lawmakers usually enact laws using security of the state to justify the diminution of human rights by allowing arrests without warrants, surveillance of suspects, interception and recording of communications, seizure or freezing of bank deposits, assets and records of suspects,” he added.

“They also redefine terrorism as a crime against humanity and the redefinition is broadly drawn to constrict and shrink further the zone of individual rights.”

RP’s anti-terror law

Puno made no specific mention of the Philippines’ own anti-terror law, the Human Security Act of 2007, which allows warrantless arrests, surveillance and seizure of bank assets, among others.

His statements were the latest to emanate from a judiciary which several times in the past had expressed concern over the violation of civil liberties in the country.

In previous decisions, the Supreme Court had struck down presidential or state directives involving security matters. These included President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s imposition of emergency rule last year and the so-called calibrated preemptive response policy allowing police to break up street demonstrations.

It also voided the recent arrest by the police of leftist leader Rep. Satur Ocampo.

Puno also said the acts of terrorists also violated human rights but they should not be the sole focus of the people’s attention, pointing out that terrorism tended to draw attention because of the “cinematic impact” of violence. ……



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