Hundreds of activists took to the streets in the Philippines to denounce an anti-terrorism law that went into effect Sunday, warning that the statute could be used to quell dissent against government.
The protesters carried placards and banners reading 'Defy State Terror' and 'Repeal Gloria's Terror Act' as they marched near the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila.
They vowed to ask the Supreme Court to review the Human Security Act, which allows law enforcers to detain suspects without criminal charges for up to 72 hours as well as use surveillance, wiretapping and seize assets.
'We will file a petition with the Supreme Court,' Renato Reyes, secretary general of the leftist New Nationalist Alliance, adding that colleagues would also seek a repeal of the law in Congress.
'The terror law is the single biggest threat to our basic freedoms and civil liberties,' he added. 'We hope the high court can help the people defeat this terrible legal monstrosity.'
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed the Human Security Act into law in March despite fears that the law would be used to crack down on political opposition and lead to rampant human rights violations.
But officials claimed that safeguards were in place to avoid abuses.
'Nobody except the terrorists should be afraid of this law,' Chief Superintendent Samuel Pagdilao, a spokesman for the national police, said. 'There are sufficient safeguards in the law.'
Pagdilao noted that even if police could detain suspects without criminal charges for 72 hours, they had to notify the courts of their actions.
'And the courts can review our actions,' he said.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 15 Temmuz 2007, 13:45