Republic Act 9372, which takes effect this coming Sunday (15 July 2007), is often referred to as the “Anti-Terror Law” or “Anti-Terrorism Law”. As will be seen in the text of the law, however, this law is properly known as the “Human Security Act of 2007.”
By this time, you’ve heard of the numerous opinions or criticisms against this law. R.A. 9372 provides for three elements or requisites for an act to be considered as “terrorism”. The 3 elements are:
1. An act sows and creates a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace;
2. The purpose is to coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand; and
3. The act is punishable under any of the following provisions of the Revised Penal Code:
1. Article 122 (Piracy in General and Mutiny in the High Seas or in the Philippine Waters);
2. Article 134 (Rebellion or Insurrection);
3. Article 134-a (Coup d‘Etat), including acts committed by private persons;
4. Article 248 (Murder);
5. Article 267 (Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention);
6. Article 324 (Crimes Involving Destruction,
1. Presidential Decree No. 1613 (The Law on Arson);
2. Republic Act No. 6969 (Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act of 1990);
3. Republic Act No. 5207, (Atomic Energy Regulatory and Liability Act of 1968);
4. Republic Act No. 6235 (Anti-Hijacking Law);
5. Presidential Decree No. 532 (Anti-piracy and Anti-highway Robbery Law of 1974); and,
6. Presidential Decree No. 1866, as amended (Decree Codifying the Laws on Illegal and Unlawful Possession, Manufacture, Dealing in, Acquisition or Disposition of Firearms, Ammunitions or Explosives)
Now, let’s consider the settled rule that criminal laws are strictly construed in favor of the accused. Let’s say someone bombs a building or a bus, but doesn’t give any demand whatsoever. We could even go further and say that there’s a demand, but the demand is directed against a bus company, for it to pay “protection money” so that its buses won’t be targeted. If you go by the definition under RA 9372, could you say that the act is NOT terrorism because the purpose is NOT “to coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand”?
If someone is charged under this law, but is acquitted after trial (most probably on the absense of the element discussed above), that person is entitled to the payment of damages in the amount of Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (PhP 500,000.00) for every day that he or she has been detained or deprived of liberty or arrested without a warrant as a result of such an accusation. With the high level of unemployment in our country, that may seem very interesting to some.
Anyway, there appears to be a widespread apprehension on abuses brought about by the impending effectivity of the law. The fear is not on the law itself, but seems to arise from the level of [dis]trust on the ones who are tasked to implement it. However, with the apparent loophole discussed above, are you still afraid of the “Human Security Act of 2007”?
(You can read the full text of the law here. This law had been erroneously cited as R.A. 9327, instead of 9372)