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'Worse than Martial Law'

SALIGAN’s Marlon Manuel slams the Human Security Act with 17 other ALG member-organizations

On August 11, 2007, Jaime “Jimmy” Rosios did not come home to his family. Armed men abducted the Yellow Bus Lines Employees’ Union (YBLEU) board member outside the company’s garage in Koronadal, South Cotobato. 

Rosios and the rest of his co-workers had just returned to work after the suspension of its operations was lifted. On June 2007, YBLEU filed a notice of strike with the national Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) in protest of unfair labor practices by management. The union withdrew its plans, despite obtaining the necessary number of strike votes, after the Secretary of Labor took over jurisdiction of the matter.

After the Yellow Bus Line terminal bombing on August 3, a complaint against two officers and one member of the YBLEU was filed with the City Prosecutors’ Office, linking them to the incident. According to Raissa Jajurie, lawyer of the alternative legal resource NGO, Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal (SALIGAN)-Mindanaw, they were charged with murder with multiple frustrated murder and destructive arson in relation to RA 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007. Also charged were union officer Jessie Rivas and member Ibrahim Bacal, who has a pending case against Yellow Bus for retirement benefits.

“Our situation these days is worse than Martial Law in the 1970s. At least then, Marcos categorically declared Martial Law in September 21, 1972,” says SALIGAN lawyer and Alternative Law Groups (ALG) spokesperson Marlon Manuel. “This Anti-Terror Law, sugarcoated as the Human Security Act, legitimizes the government’s repression of rights while it is claiming that we are still in a fully-functioning democracy and that the law only serves to protect the state and the people from terror attacks. The HSA is not good in apprehending who it should go after but it is excellent in terrorizing local communities that peacefully claim their constitutionally- guaranteed rights.” 

He adds that the rising number of cases of human rights violations against farmers, laborers, Moros, and indigenous peoples could only get worse. According to Manuel, the HSA’s provisions on surveillance, interception and recording of private communications, prolonged and unlimited period of detention without warrant, and proscription of terrorist organizations, associations, or groups of persons, infringe on constitutionally guaranteed rights. “Under these circumstances, the poor and marginalized sectors are the most vulnerable to abuses in the implementation of the HSA because they lack the resources to ensure that their rights are respected and protected,” he says.