[JURIST] Philippine law enforcement officers are reluctant to use the powers allocated them in a new anti-terrorism law due to strict punishments provided for rights violations, according to a government security advisor speaking to AP Sunday. The controversial Human Security Act of 2007 [PDF text; press release] was signed [JURIST report] in March by President Gloria Arroyo. It authorizes the 72-hour detention of suspects without charge and allows for surveillance, wiretapping and seizure of assets. On the other hand, it says that officers who perform an unauthorized wiretap or violate the rights of a detainee could face up to 12 years in prison. Section 41 of the Act sets out damage amounts payable to persons wrongly charged:
Upon his or her acquittal or the dismissal of the charges against him or her, the amount of Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00 [roughly $11,000]) a day for the period in which his properties, assets or funds were seized shall be paid to him on the concept of liquidated damages. The amount shall be taken from the appropriations of the police or law enforcement agency that caused the filing of the enumerated charges against him/her.National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzalez [official profile] said Cabinet officials have already begun to discuss revising the Act.
There was substantial opposition to the legislation on civil liberties grounds even before it went into effect [JURIST report]. In March, Martin Scheinin, UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, recommended [JURIST report] that it be amended or repealed. In July, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines urged Manila [JURIST report] to revisit the act, saying that "many voices are apprehensive" about the anti-terror legislation. AP has more