THE next forum speaker, Dr. Victor Ramraj, associate professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Singapore, delivered his paper "Anti-Terrorism Legislation in Comparative Perspective: Some Policy Concerns"  and counseled that having a "new, improved legislation" does not always serve as a guarantee against future attacks.

Ramraj begun by enumerating specific legal problems hounding anti-terrorism legislation. One problem deals with defining terrorism, which he said, is hobbled by the difficulty in distinguishing acts of terrorism from an armed struggle waged by national liberation movements (as was the case, for instance, with Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress, both considered terrorists by the U.S.). This is the reason why there has yet to be an accepted definition of terrorism in international law.

Another difficulty is the perceived need to treat terrorism as a sui generis (of its own kind) offense when most acts of terrorism could be regarded as heinous crimes that are prosecuted accordingly under existing domestic law. In trying to make such a distinction, the United Kingdom’s Terrorism Act of 2000, for example, made reference to the motive — be it political, religious or ideological — by which the act was committed. Ramraj said this is dangerous as it raises issues of government profiling and discrimination against religious or unpopular political groups that only serve to politicize their prosecution.

Ramraj said there are also substantive and procedural concerns in criminal law as anti-terorrism laws depart from its norms. These may come in the form of criminalizing otherwise harmless conduct or creating secondary offenses like the provisions regarding the failure to monitor or report financial or property transactions. In terms of procedural safeguards, these have been diluted to facilitate anti-terrorism operations as in the case of the right to remain silent in the U.K. The norm in criminal prosecutions these days used to be just a proposal allowing adverse inferences to be drawn from the silence of suspects in anti-terrorism cases.

Another alarming post-September 11 development, Ramraj said, is the expansion of the power of the executive, often referred to as the rise of the security state. This is manifested in the expanded investigative powers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation under the U.S. Patriot Act that involves secretly obtaining information from terrorist suspects and a wide range of third parties (both Americans and non-citizens) through administrative subpoenas issued by the Attorney General.

There is also the expanded executive power to designate groups or individuals as terrorists often without notice which consequently are being considered conclusive in a criminal trial. This listing procedure, Ramraj said, raises concerns about the separation of powers since the determination that a suspect is a terrorist is for an independent judge, and not for the executive, to make.

Then there is also the increasing involvement of the military in domestic anti-terrorism operations that have resulted in the supplanting of ordinary civilian police conduct by military procedures and tactics.  There is a possible danger that such greater military involvement could itself become a threat to executive power in the long run. 

As a consequence of the expanded executive powers, the role of the courts has also become a serious legal concern given the tendency to limit the scope of judicial review.

Taking a step back, Ramraj’s comparative study of anti-terrorism legislation described three broad policy concerns that anti-terrorism measures give rise to:

  • their impact on the rule of law and executive power
  • their effect on minority groups and community cohesion 
  • their potential to inadvertently become part of the problem that triggers a cycle of political violence

Already a contested concept, the rule of law, Ramraj said, is becoming synonymous with rule by law, with the State exercising power that is no longer subject to any challenge either through legislative restraint or a stringent system of checks and balances.

As the State engages in profiling of suspects on the basis of ethnic or religious affiliations, this causes the deterioration of community relations. As Ramraj claimed, such is:

"perhaps the greatest threat that terorrism poses to pluralist democracies; its ability to destroy societies from the inside by fueling ethnic tensions, collapsing bonds of trust, and further isolating minority communities that might already have felt marginalized."

This alienation becomes an even more serious problem when it feeds into a cycle of political violence. Coupled with the greater concentration of power in the executive, an alienated minority that has lost trust in institutions entrusted with emergency powers, he said, is a recipe for disaster — for a prolonged and violent conflict.

Ramraj concludes by emphasizing the limits of emergency legislation such as an anti-terrorism law. Its long-term costs, he said, must be carefully examined as new legislation tends to confer even more power to the executive and security forces that only creates more potential for abuse and perpetuates the very problem it tries to address. A "community cohesion policy" should also form part of an overall anti-terrorism strategy — which implies a political approach more than a strictly legal one. At the same time, strengthening the integrity of and building confidence in institutions (police, security forces, the courts, and the executive) requireserious attention.

An appropriate role for law in an emergency, he added, is for the courts to remain active participants within the structure of government, though this will depend on the overall strength and integrity of the judiciary as a whole.

The full text of Ramraj’s paper can be accessed here

36 Responses to Addressing the terrorism threat – 2



October 15th, 2005 at 6:09 am

this blog capsulizes the shortcomings (or i would say the overbreadth and vagueness) of an anti-terror law. the law is not a “cure-all” treatment for terrorist threats, why sacrifice civil liberties for that?

to our lawmakers, please carefully study the bill. i may liken the looming danger of terrorism to the bird flu pandemic. we don’t know when it will come (or probably it won’t happen). but preparedness to handle the situation is what we need (as up to now Thailand is the only one prepared for the pandemic). an anti-terror law may only be a step (as formulation of an anti-virus or a vaccine) to our preparedness and not really a 100% guarantee for attack-prevention (take Indonesia for instance). please don’t act terrified by terror to hastily draft a vague law. (please don’t act as if prodded only by dubya bush!)

there are enough laws to safeguard us now, please don’t add a law that will eventually do more harm…



October 15th, 2005 at 10:09 am

It’s precisely that, baycas, that an anti-terror law must be legislated to differentiate the terroristic crime from ordinary crimes. And the reason for making this important distinction is exactly to preserve civil liberties. Certainly, there is no law in the universe that can stop the commission of crimes. But as the international terrorism that we know today commits crimes that parallel with crime against humanity it becomes necessary that extreme measures must be in place to draw out and identify the terrorists, but such rigid measures like holding of suspects indefinitely, search for evidence, etc., may infringe on one’s civil rights. Some countries can hold suspected terrorists for as long as 60 days incommunicado, i.e. without bail nor lawyer. Can you imagine what Satur Ocampo would have done if Joma Sison is kept in the slammer that long? What would Jamby feel if she were stripped search, wet and all, and tagged a terrorist just because she got hosed down together with my former tennis buddy Tito Guingona on the way to Malacanang, este San Beda?

This is the major issue that needs to be resolved, thus it becomes important that the word ‘terrorist’ must be defined because it has become an expanded word that provides varying interpretations. As I wrote in another blog, for instance, somebody’s freedom fighter is a terrorist to another. And I don’t believe Bush has anything to do with this. It’s just common sense that we know how to fight terrorism and we have the laws to protect our civil rights as well. Terrorism is a new ball game, a war no longer conventional, and the whole world is struggling to fight an unseen enemy.



October 15th, 2005 at 10:40 am

Dear Toro,

Good points. But I think treating terrorism as a “crime” and making the fight against terrorism a matter of law enforcement, is what has run afoul of the strong civil libertarian tradition that has grown up since martial law.

I would rather we promoted the campaign against terrorism as a war against an enemy that has by word of mouth and the most foul of deeds declared war on humanity.

If we decide that indeed we are already AT WAR or that we should be, then the whole context of the debate changes, doesn’t it? This point is being made at the blogspot, philippinecommentary and several other websites. People are willing to sacrifice many freedoms we enjoy in normal times IF they believe that the condition called “peace” does not and cannot exist until the enemy is defeated.

But our President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, has not made the case for war on terror. With Gloriagate her quagmire, she CANNOT rally people to any cause because she has demonstrated inconstancy, treachery and unreliability wherever she has stood on these weighty international issues.

As for the anti-terrorism bill, if it is sold as a pure anti-crime measure and not as part of a war-time mobilization, it’ll run into a buzz-saw of libertarian opposition. It will still be passed by the Congress of Trapos, but our international allies can look forward to the Philippines continuing to be the cradle of things like Operation Bojinka and the Bali Bombings.

The bill cannot be sold to the public purely as a crime-prevention measure, because we have a big fat Revised Penal Code that already lists all of them.

People only partially surrender their civil liberties when they are mobilized for war. That is already the situation in America, Britain, Australia, — they are all at war and gladly remove their shoes at airports to prove it. But they still argue–freely–over every instance of enforcement of their anti-terrorism laws.



October 15th, 2005 at 2:08 pm

keep it coming toro, baycas, rizalist, your broad knowledge on this topic is feeding our hungry minds. thank you.



October 15th, 2005 at 3:03 pm

I can not believe that forum is taking some of its cues from a Singaporean! I am a bit jaded when it comes to lawyers and even law professors from modern repressive regimes giving their analysis on civil and political rights, much less a comparative analysis of rights within the region. Our own UP Law Center or the Ateneo Human Rights Center can hold a candle to the Singaporeans. We have far greater experience in laws vis-a-vis human rights. In fact, we Filipinos should be lecturing them a thing or two on basic human rights.

Unless of course, Prof. Ramraj is in the forefront of fighting to abrogate the repressive internal security laws of their country which I did not see in his C. V. The only thing probably that merited his invitation is that he has been talking about terrorism since 2002. And that may qualify him as an expert in theory but does not necessarily put him in the league of our human rights lawyers.



October 15th, 2005 at 3:12 pm

question. does singapore has an anti-terror law already? the reason why am asking is because a week or 2 ago, (don’t know if pcij has picked this up) i read in a foreign newspaper about two bloggers arrested and was meted short prison terms (minimum of 2 months) plus fines. there was a topic concerning religion and they happened to write anti-muslim remarks. could it be that the anti-terror law was used? other singaporean bloggers specially the students were ask for their opinions and others resented the arrests as against freedom of expression while others take it as a warning not to write offensive remarks on the blog else you will be arrested if the authorities interpret your comment as inciting violence.
i think the same could happen in the phils once this anti-terror bill is approved.



October 15th, 2005 at 4:04 pm

Dear Dawin,

I just got done reading through Prof. Ramraj’s PDF. It’s kinda heavy going, but provides a valuable technical reference into the complicated conceptual, legal and political issues involved. His being Singaporean is irrelevant. He has some expertise we can learn from that might not be present in Diliman or Katipunan. All nations are in this together. Even an academic approach is important given the chaotic thinking of most on the subject. He at least gives us all a common language, a set of terms and definitions to discuss the issue coherently.

IMHO, I don’t think an anti-terrorism law has much validity outside of a wartime context. Terrorism is not a quintessentially a “crime” though indiscriminate violence is its modus operandi. It is an enemy to be interdicted and if possible eradicated, like Avian Flu or HIV/Aids.

Approached lie that, the Anti-Terror Law is the moral equivalent of a condom. Just as the existence of deadly AIDs curtails a former carefree lifestyle and uhm naked freedom, so too does the existence of deadly AlQaeda require of us sacrifice and special precautions.

Considering terrorism to be an “enemy” in the same way that AIDS is an enemy has another advantage. It answers the argument implicit in “One man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter.”

As long as the responsible State authorities and the public are one in identifying specific targets of a War on Terror, civil libertarian objections can be minimized.

But the general impression I get of Ramraj’s presentation is that at the end of the day, any anti-terrorism measure is by nature going to increase the power of the executive and curtail some degree of civil liberties. He sees ominous signs in the rise of the “security state” as nations are forced to adopt special measures against the terrorist threat.

As a lawyer, he does not step outside the legal box in trying to make anti-terror legislation more palatable to a dubious public. Rather he wants to smooth out its rougher edges by, for example, expunging specific references to ethnic and political minorities in the making of lists of terrorists and their supporters. But this approach only makes it appear that there are more actual terrorists than there really are.

What would happen if all the law amounted to was an enumeration of Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda affiliates? Who would object? (Well, okay, throw the durn New People’s Army in there too).

But the larger problem is not technico-legal, it is political and ideological. I don’t think the Filipino leadership is committed to a real War on Terror, whose needs are the only way to justify those special measures. It has not, and cannot rally the people to war. Of course the people themselves are perfectly willing to let the Americans, Brits and Aussies, but that’s a different matter. The Palace’s crisis of legitimacy precludes any clarion call to national unity. Certainly the preoccupation of the National Security Adviser with Charter change shows a lack of focus and all the President is doing is cruising for a bruising with the Senate and House.



October 15th, 2005 at 4:19 pm

JR_LAD, yes I picked up the news too from News Asia. One was a blogger and the other was not who both posted racist and libelous remarks online. They were charged and convicted under Singapore’s Sedition Act. Both were found quilty and sentenced one month plus $5,000. I’m not sure if Singapore already has anti-terrorism law, but obviously the crime committed was seditious under strict Singapore laws.



October 15th, 2005 at 5:56 pm

toro, thanks for the added info.



October 15th, 2005 at 6:02 pm

Hi JR_Lad,
Here’s BBC News Item on Singapore (dated Nov. 13, 2001!)

Singapore has strengthened its anti-terrorism laws, adopting regulations which punish as criminal acts the funding of terrorism and the spreading of hoax threats.

The Ministry of Law said it was formally codifying United Nations resolutions adopted after the attacks on New York and Washington.

Speaking in New York on Monday, Singapore’s Foreign Minister, S Jayakumar, repeated his government’s commitment to what he called the central global priority of battling extremism.

He said regional groupings now faced the challenge of translating statements of outrage into coherent and co-ordinated international action.



October 15th, 2005 at 6:28 pm

thanks Rizalist. so, it’s possible that this latest arrest was attributed to these strengthened anti-terrorism laws in singapore.



October 15th, 2005 at 6:53 pm

BLOGGERS can be dangerous! What can i say? Just look at PCIJ!

If martial law is ever resorted to here, I daresay one of the first websites that will surely be marked for termination will be this one–using any number of illegal but effective techniques. However, thereare countermeasure available, (which I’m sure PCIJ is already considering ~wink~), to stay online even under a total clampdown.

As is well known, the Internet was designed to survive the loss of significant fractions of its physical infrastructure but still survive in a distributed but interconnected existence things like a nuclear attack, or martial law.

So though the conventional mass trimedia–TV, radio, print–can all be brought down in a few hours by a concerted Palace-directed operation using the police and military under emergency rule, it would still be possible that people online could log into this blog and find out what is going on.

But it requires preparation, because if anything the Palace spooks are every bit as tech-savvy as, well Alex P. and his support crew and they could take down at least every local server.

So you gotta get ready if you wanna be online no matter what happens.

BLOGGERS will be last media standing!



October 15th, 2005 at 7:38 pm

Dear Rizalist,

Your perceptions about an anti-terror law seem more complicated than I thought. I appreciate your concerns on what the libertarians will say and it concerns me more if Jamby and Tito are hosed down again on their way to Malacanang, este San Beda, if their rights are violated.

But, I don’t really believe it can be that bad. Ramraj has a lot of apprehensions and fears himself like giving excessive powers to the executive, criminalizing otherwise lesser offenses, the effects on the ininority, profiling, etc, which he calls as all potential trigger points that could spark more violence.

A wise man once said, when you plan something big KISS.
Keep It Simple Stupid, he said to me.

A law against terrorism should not be taken as a mere law enforcemnt measure. In my opinion, it should only be adopted as an emergency measure during an emergency situation. I would go as far as calling it a national war effort where Congress may declare a national emergency if it determines there is an imminent danger of atack as confirmed and substantiated by the security council and other govt intel agencies. But the moment the attack is petpetrated, Congress may declare immediately a national emergency where the anti-terrorism law becomes operational and enforceable, and the powers provided for in the anti-terror law are transfered to the President. At this point certain civil liberties may be curtailed or suspended indefinitely in order to identify, search and arrest the terrorists. Congress may also determine when to lift the emergency. This is one way that the Executive may not abuse the powers to be vested in that office. What to do during the lull and uneventful, quiet hours? Let the security people be vigilant, perceptive, and diligent in their job.

Do you find it complicated?

Let me try to second guess your thoughts. All this is worthless because the bozos that run the House are Gloria’s room mates.



October 15th, 2005 at 8:33 pm

Dear Toro,
Consider the nature of the conflict, especially the meaning of “asymmetric warfare.” We do not know where the enemy is, or where he will strike or what particular means of mass murder and mayhem he will choose. We do not know who he is or how many agents he will employ. And even after an attack we probably wouldn’t know the answers to most of these questions.
I’m beginning to like the analogy of a war on a killer disease

Regarding your idea, there might never be a state of verifiable imminent attack, just normalcy, then KABOOM. The process you describe would take days, at the soonest. We are not preparing for an invasion that we can see from afar off, but one that would be over and done in milliseconds, with no warning.

Also, we may not be the direct target but we could be an important link in the defense. For example, about three months ago PDI carried a story that really alarmed me. It said the US Embassy had just announced the completion of the installation of a “nuclear material detection system” at the Manila main sea port!

This suggests the Americans are seriously guarding against the shipment of a weapon aboard one of the one million sea containers that arrive at her shores every year, many of them going through ports like Manila, Hong Kong, Singapore, and all over the world.

Such an attack may not be directed against the Philippines, but I’m sure that if LA or San Francisco disappeared in a mushroom cloud we wouldn’t recognize our own lifestyle even here in the boondocks after a very short while…

An anti-terrorism law is meant to do more in other words than to repel attacks on the Philippines. It is meant to draw us into an international alliance of countries that are coordinating their mutual efforts at a common defense.

And lil things could mean a lot. Remember it was Filipino cops who capture d Ramzi Youssef, thus uncovering Operation Bojinka, the practice run for 9/11.



October 15th, 2005 at 9:37 pm

I think there is no question that for Americans, life changed after 9/11.
But for us Filipinos, strict security has been staple with us even before 9/11. We are used to security guards searching our personal belongings. Such things were and are still alien to most Americans who feel bag searches are invasions to their privacy.

Thus, putting out an anti-terrorism bill is really more for international consumption to gain U.S. appreciation of our efforts in their war against terror. Moreover, an anti-terror bill is only effective if it is preventive or pro-active. There is no consolation, with the exception of the victims and their relations, imposing the death penalty many times over once the damage has been done.

I do not know the basis for saying that the Philippines is the weakest link in the war other than the fact that the training camps are in Mindanao. But that is just like saying that the State of Montana is the weakest link in their war against home grown ultra-rightist terrorism just because most of them reside in that state. There may degrees in difference and severity but the analogy is the same.

The fact is, we can curb them and we have curbed them. The fact is, our home grown Quiapo Muslim community which incidentally is a stone’s throw from the office of the Department of Budget and Management has been more than willing to cooperate with our policemen. Unlike the military intelligence, our police intelligence really has intelligence and they have successfully monitored the various Muslim communities in Metro Manila. But this is not to say that they should rest on our laurels.

Like Dean Bocobo mentioned, we foiled Operation Bojinka. It was the Americans who dropped the ball. Unlike them, we do not have a wall of separation between the civilian police force and other military security or espionage agencies. Sharing of information is one virtue that they did not have.

Therefore, theoretically, a terrorism bill would have easily passed muster if not for the fact that administration solons have raised the specter of using this law against the exercise of civil and political rights. More so, when it is recklessly mouthed by a Muslim solon like Cong. Datumanong who ought to realize that the first casualty of an anti-terrorism bill will, in all likelihood, be a Muslim. Call that religious profiling and call that unconstitutional but that will happen.

This continuous discussion on terrorism especially with the congress bill really does not add one whit to the Philippine experience against terrorists or freedom fighters, however one calls it. As these comments have said, we have more than enough experience fighting terrorism, much more than the Americans and the British combined.

But these discussions on the anti-terror bill are terribly important and vital to ensure that it will not convert t the bill into a flag waving, religion taunting, seditious pointing law that would hale anyone who speaks out against the administration will be haled to court with flimsiest of evidence, even suspicion.

Our 14 years of martial rule have enriched our experience in combating fascism in whatever form. Those years have sharpened our sensibilities to violations of our political and civil rights. And that is why I feel that as well-intentioned as Prof. Ramraj is, the fact is he has yet to eat the pudding and can only speak from a theoretical plane. And precisely due to his background as a lawyer and with due respect to Dean Bocobo, there is really nothing new in his paper.

I have read his paper, thanks to PCIJ, and it offers nothing substantive that our fight for human rights and the dissenting opinions of Justice Teehankee have not taught us. Our ears are far nearer the ground than I suspect his is.

Therefore, a pro-active anti-terror bill must be discussed and passed, if need be, but with the necessary safeguards on our civil and political rights. Our priorities and way of thinking need not be totally aligned with the Americans. After all, all they are concerned with is that an anti-terror bill be passed and they will proclaim to the community of nations that we are partners in the fight against terror.

But as for us and our country, our priority must be that the law should not be used as a blanket indictment to restrict our right to redress our grievances, either by this government or the next.



October 16th, 2005 at 7:18 am

RIZALIST, your points are well taken except that personally I view it with so much negativity which makes me think that as with many of your concerns you are passionately troubled that the human rights advocates will find the law disagreeable rather than reflect on how the law can work to save people. You have pointed out rather vigorously what we should fear instead of telling us how to fight fear itself. You say we may not be a target but as an important link to a global defense we may be consumed in a mushroom cloud because we are part of the alliance. So, do I take it we withdraw from the group and pray the Jemaah Islamiya will only use mini bombs on us? Precisely that you recognize the war against terrorism is unconventional, an assymetic warfare as you said, and because of which the KABOOM you mentioned may just happen right behind you because you will never know when a terrorist will strike, giving up some of your personal rights is a small price to pay if it will mean saving your own life and those of your loved ones.

I try to be pragmatic with my solutions in facing reality squarely and not be obstructed by undue procrastination like what if. What if it did?

Rizalist, my respect for your opinions has not diminished but if there’s a word pro-active, I believe yours is super pro-negative.

DAWIN, you have said it all. I believe you just put a period to an interesting discussion.

Thanks Rizalist, Dawin. All the best.



October 16th, 2005 at 7:45 am

Thanks for the stimulating conversation guys!
PS to Dawin: Dean Bocobo IS Rizalist!



October 16th, 2005 at 8:34 am

Dear Dean Bocobo (Rizalist),

I feel humbled by your presence in this blog. I tried to put a mental image of the personality of the man I was discussing with because I could perceive all your writings were expressing a sense of nationalism, and the fact you used the name Rizalist proved that. Now, I understand. Now that you have blown your cover, perhaps you should use another name like Bonifacio or Mabini. I feel uncomfortable debating with one who I give my utmost respect and courtesy.

It was a great pleasure to have this little discourse with you.
I’m deeply honored. Thank you very much.



October 16th, 2005 at 10:02 am

No Sir! Not me!..Let us honor our hosts at PCIJ who have created a space where we may all gather in the falling darkness and hear each other breathing, fast, feel each others’ hearts beating, with love or rage, and hold each others anxious hands.

Realize that the reason we do not see People Power is because it is already so BIG and all around us, we don’t even notice it. We do not see the people’s rage in the streets, because already in their hearts they have withdrawn their consent to be governed. That is the real people power. We live now in a reign of moral midgets, a reign of greed and vanity and selfish pride, a time when we must swallow lies so bald and smelly we are forced to insult our very intelligences with every sound bite and newstory. But we should fear not! The truth has found a way around every attempt to strangle and suppress it. Although the main stream media has largely been neutralized if not coopted, meant mainly to ‘calibrate’ the people’s response, here at PCIJ and the blogosphere, we are connected to an even greater People Power, the power of a global human republic, a global civil society to overthrow the ancien regimes of tyranny and stupidity.

I do not believe in political stalemates. In chess, a stalemated game ends in a draw, the game is over. So those who describe the present situation as a stalemate may be wishful thinking and need to look up the meaning of a chess term more apt: ZUGZWANG.



October 16th, 2005 at 4:33 pm

Dean Bocobo,

Yes, I knew beforehand the eminent person hiding behind the eminent alias. Your reemerged presence in the blogoshpher is, as Manolo put it, a welcome development. And yes, I will be honored to fellowship and sojourn with you in this gathering darkness.



October 16th, 2005 at 6:04 pm

Fantastic discourse, this is exactly how bloggers should express ones view on matters that affect the entire nation. Kudos to you all for sticking to the issues at hand instead of calling eachother names.

This is the first time that I had gone through a certain issue that kept me captivated and feeling satisfied.

To all bloggers, we should emulate and practice this kind of enriching discussion instead of the usual profiling and labeling which is practiced by a selected few in this site. And thus demean, degrade and insult those who do not agree with their very flimsy and limited reasoning. Like I pointed out before that some comments have on the border of bigotry and discrimination.

*Terrorism has no borders and does not differentiate civilian from military targets. Their only purpose is to instill terror on the populace. I do believe that we need a different set of laws to address this global threat. Why don’t we ask the international court for their opinion as I consider this crimes against humanity. To leave this formulation to the administration and its minions will pollute this to suit their own agenda.

We have a congress and DOJ who interpret our constituion not in the true context but to fit their goals What would prevent them to bastardize this law should it be passed? No law in the world would ever deter terrorism. We should always be vigilant and put our trust on the diligence of our law enforcers and our intelligence agencies.



October 16th, 2005 at 6:55 pm

Rizalist wrote:

“We do not see the people’s rage in the streets, because already in their hearts they have withdrawn their consent to be governed. That is the real people power.”

Such a beatiful phrase. This will be remembered by bloggers here long after the cause before us is done. Amazingly true!


Abe N. Margallo

October 17th, 2005 at 7:15 am

“Realize that the reason we do not see People Power is because it is already so BIG and all around us, we don’t even notice it. We do not see the people’s rage in the streets, because already in their hearts they have withdrawn their consent to be governed. That is the real people power . . . here at PCIJ and the blogosphere, we are connected to an even greater People Power, the power of a global human republic, a global civil society to overthrow the ancien regimes of tyranny and stupidity.” – Dean Jorge Bocobo

Wow! How I wish I wrote these beautiful accolades for People Power.

But, back to the topic, who do we think is the most “terrorized” person in the world today? (Clue #1: not Dubya. Clue #2: from the run-up to Iraq invasion until his capture in a “spider hole,” Saddam Hussein could be in his league.) Given the available technology to spot from the sky his lanky shadow, can this poor being even go outside to do his thing?

Now, with the imminent use of “emergency powers” being bruited about in the Philippines, isn’t it reasonable to assume a handful of PCIJ and other journalists are also feeling “terrorized” nowadays? Sans the doctrinal sieves, how do we re-conceptualize terrorism?

Let me offer some other frame of discourse than those already formulated by scholars like Dr. Victor Ramraj.

First, if a person or a group is labeled as the villainous “terrorist,” the other person or group is likely to assume the starring role, the “counter-terrorist” (or the “anti-terrorist”). Save for the casting process which could well be directed by the one who has unilaterally appropriated the more benign character, this might still look innocuous.

Outside of the terrorist/freedom fighter context, what if the role-playing were also transformed in some Biblical sense, say, in a David /Goliath conflict. Who should logically be called one or the other?

People who are routinely blowing themselves up (maybe because they could not afford a missile or a gunship helicopter) could not plausibly be pigeonholed into a Goliath role? And how could the most powerful actor in the world, at least militarily, be co-starred as boy David? The casting of the protagonists won’t just hold up, it seems. Only recently, President Arroyo blew it, did she not, when she tried to play the “victim” of the schoolyard bully because the forced analogy was ridiculous or funny at best, many thought.

Professing to avoid being “political,” Dr. Ramraj writes that “focusing instead on the acts of violence themselves and on the specific methods of terrorism might be more fruitful than trying to formulate a definition (of terrorism) acceptable to all.”

My problem about the rather nuanced assessment of Dr Ramraj is that it immediately and conveniently excludes from the discursive analysis the “acts of violence” and the “specific methods” of ANTI-TERRORISM with the effect of rendering those “acts” and “methods” as innocent and acceptable to be begin with except for certain concerns — e.g., potential violation of procedural and substantive due process as regards the “rights” of the suspected terrorist or the expansive role of the executive vis-à-vis the restrictive scope of judicial review — Dr. Ramraj has identified within the range of discourse thus narrowed.

Think about this: supposing the masterminds in the 9-11 attacks were unmistakably identified and there were convincing speculations they were hiding in London but exact whereabouts were not known. Would intense air raids by Americans over London (well, using smart bombs) be “justified” as legitimate “acts of violence” in the guise of counter-terrorism?

Even if the Americans, in our hypothetical, did not carry the threats to shell London or carpet bomb the outskirts of the city to spare no terrorists attempting to escape, the months of preparation to war against the terrorists supposedly hiding in London who would have “terrified” the whole city no end.

The twist: the terrorists were actually hiding in Iraq and Afghanistan (And no Al Qaueda operatives and nuclear weapons found in Britain?). Oops.

“But we can’t bomb the Iraqis and Afghans now,” the hawks in Washington muttered, “they are too pretty and too cosmopolitan to suffer or die like the Brits.”

Here’s the connection (an overkill perhaps) between the unnoticed force of People Power and the “terror” that is unseen and taken for granted. “There’s so much ‘terror,’” I wrote in my book, “happening in our midst today but we don’t see it, because it is not readily visible. Not being visible, we often don’t resent it. It is not suicide bomber but terrorism ‘on paper (that) hurt the most’ (says Raj Patel, this time).” For example, MOA or statute that requires the precedence of a debt repayment to feeding the people, or a sanctions policy that kills millions.



October 17th, 2005 at 8:57 am

My initial view on Alecks’ addressing the terrorism threat series was already enunciated in his first installment where I advanced my personal view that while we need to address the treat of terrorism, we do not need a new piece of legislation which is currently pending in Congress to curb terrorism per se.

As what I have stated earlier, our current penal laws, including the special ones, are sufficient enough to cover all crimes considered or contemplated to fall under the so-called “terroristic acts or activities”.

Clearly, in this second installment, the paper of Dr. Victor Ramraj should merit a serious look from our legislator-proponent/s or if not, the Congressional technical staff could use this as a technical input/s for their principal’s consideration.

For non-lawyers or non-law students, I respectfully suggests that you try to grab a criminal law book in your nearest library or bookstore, to fully appreciate the issue at hand.

Penal books authored by Reyes, Gregorio or Sandoval make a good reference.

With the said book/s at hand, try to differentiate a simple crime from a compound to a complex one.

Happy reading, folks :)



October 17th, 2005 at 9:16 am

I beg to to differ a bit with the statement that Filipinos have RECENTLY (i.e. in light of the GMA scandal) withdrawn their consent to be governed. This statement implies that it is only in light of recent circumstances that this consent had been withdrawn.

I make a more expansive assertion that Pinoys have NEVER given consent to be governed to ANY government in the first place. This has been plain as day since time immemorial. You see this in our hat’s off compliance to American rules whenever we gallivant in Subic — it goes beyond compliance, Pinoys are at AWE with Anmerican rules and have always relished being subject to it. Compare that to how foolish the average Pinoy feels when he finds himself being the odd-man-out when attempting to pay the right taxes, keep to his own lanes in traffic, and be a bit more serious in considering who to vote for (“doon na lang tayo, may pa-lamon!”).

It further explains why we are a chaotic lot in our own country but an orderly and superbly-assimilated community overseas.

What we perceive today as a recent “withdrawal of consent to be governed” is just a STEPPING UP of what has always been the norm; the ambient PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE approach to being a citizen of the Philippines. Someone once said recently that “we do not need heroes, only people doing their jobs”. In the Philippines, nobody does their jobs PROPERLY. Pinoys always look to heroes to get the job done, precisely because we are a society where ORDINARY jobs are not done properly.

And now we presume to “withdraw our consent to be governed”?

That is a laugh to say the least.

We have no consent to withdraw because we never gave it in the first place. We are just a collection of pre-colonial tribes shoehorned into a nation called “the Philippines”. There is no *kusang loob* to be a law-abiding citizen. With banal impunity, taxes are evaded, traffic rules are ignored, and idiots are elected to office (demonstrating our collective flippant attitude towards the long-term welfare of the state).

In fact, I go further to say that Philippien society has a culture of crime (which I articulate in detail in the following article):

If there is rage in the streets, it is too much too late, and MISDIRECTED. Our rage is always released in explosions rather than in controlled environments where the energy could be used productively (kind of like the difference between a nuclear bomb and a nuclear power plant). The rage is always there and the lack of consent to be governed HAS ALWAYS BEEN THERE. We are just too blinkered to notice it in ourselves. Now we have managed to pervert even Corysian People Power so we resort to using poetry to turn it into something else.

Now THAT is pathetic. 😀



October 17th, 2005 at 10:30 am

Yes, Tiago, it’s a beautiful phrase, but it can also be translated positively that the absence of rage signifies consent to be governed, hence you do not see people power in the streets.

Now, don’t get me wrong. (There go those words again. How I hate prefacing my statement that way, so defensively, to explain I’m not a Gloria apologist so the GMA bashers will not go into hysterics.)

My take on Rizalist’s statement carries a positive twist, but it doesn’t mean Rizalist is wrong. It’s just that we have different perspectives in viewing things. Nevertheless, the issue is a valid point. Why are the people not incensed enough to go out and join People Power today when it took them mere hours after the Erap impeachment walk out to assemble a huge throng at Edsa?

Some say it could have gone that way had the GMA impeachment reached the Senate trial. But even if it did not, the series of alleged corruption, anomalies, election fraud, repressive authority, etc., would have been enough to enrage and bring the people out to the streets. Others claim these are mere allegations that must be proven yet, true, but weren’t the charges against Erap at his aborted impeachment trial were allegations too?

Some theorize that people are discouraged to join rallies because they are tired of politics; that people have matured politically and prefer a leadership change through constitutional means; that the opposition lacks a leader of high moral integrity and competence good enough to replace GMA; that the opposition is a motley group of leftists, rightists and centrists (not a valid point as Edsa I was a composite of these groups); that whoever takes over will slide back to corrupt ways anyway. Others see the futility of people power without military support. Does this mean then that people have given up? These may be valid reasons, but here is my personal view.

I do not believe people have entirely given up. Perhaps, the more plausible reason is that one may be waiting for the other, or putting it more succinctly, the military for all its avowals to disengage from politics may just turn this to lip service and be compelled to come out when a throng brims the entire length and breadth of Edsa and major parts of the archipelago. This is no egg-chicken situation though like which comes first. I liken this to the classic baseball movie which says build the field and we will come.

At this time, my sense is that something else is lacking to really enrage people enough. I totally disagree with many bloggers here that think if one is not anti-GMA he must be pro-GMA which gives them the license to bash a poor fella to death. It seems important to them that one must mouth anti-GMA slogans to “belong”. Fellas, there are countless others out there who are anti-GMA but prefer to remain passive or anonymous for private reasons. They are patient, level-headed and will not be carried away by emotions and endless, useless tirades. Let sleeping dogs lie, that’s what they are. I classify myself as one.

For now, GMA has closed her fists to defend herself from her political enemies. She has also begun to show impatience and intolerance. It will be her greatest mistake if she turn those fists into an iron hand and does something foolish, so outrageous, that will drive people to rally ’round the flag. Will that ever happen? Today GMA is treading on dangerous grounds, confident that her actions are within the limits of her constitutional power, but she must know where to draw the line. People have limits too with their patience and tolerance. One fatal step may lead to her destruction.

What happens if GMA is deposed extra-constitutionally? It’s gonna be an entirely new ballgame. So many power brokers, so many president wanna-be’s, so many prized government positions to fill, etc., the opportunities are endless for ambitious politicians, that there will be fights between pro-Erap and civil society groups, the rightists fighting the leftists, the leftists fighting the military, the religious Bro. Eddie, the Catholic bishops, Bro. Mike, the INK will be fighting too. Oh, it will be chaotic. I leave the rest to your imagination.



October 17th, 2005 at 11:26 am

Napaka grabe na ang mga GOONS na pulis. Hindi ko nakita noon kay MARCOS na pati ang mga Bishop, Pare, At ibang politiko ay ginagawang targetan ng tubig. Ni hindi ko nabasa at nakita ito noon kay Marcos. Anong uri na ba ang mga police sa atin. Kahit na kitang kita na walang ginagawang gulo ang mga nag ra – rally ay patuloy pa rin sila nga sisinungaling na ang mga ralista ang nag umpisa. Noong nag aaral pa ako ng High School sa San Sebastian (noong panahon ni MArcos) ay galit na galit ako sa mga nag ra rally dahil nahihirapan kami umuwi at wala naman malaking pinaglalaban at maganda naman ang kabuhayan noon. Pero ngayon ay okey na sa akin ang mga nag ra rally dahil sobrang sobra na ang ginagawang kawalanghiyaan ni Gloriang Magnanakaw at ang mga alagad niya magnanakaw rin. Sagad ang kasunungalingan at wala ka ng maasahan sa mga cabinet niya na puro tuso at palpak. Lalo na ang mga Heneral na makakuha lang ng star sa balikat at gagawin lahat para lang sa ambisyon. Noon kay Marcos ay walang palpak na cabinet. Itong cabinet ni Gloriang magnanakaw ay halos isang word ay hindi ka maniniwala. Siguradong hindi tama.



October 17th, 2005 at 1:08 pm


i share your sentiments. I myself is incensed by GMA’s insincerety, insconstancy and the lack of good moral judgenemnt in 2004 election.
Enough reasons for me to throw stones at the glass house but i have not gone to the streets at this point. I did hope that the constitutional remedy will work for us that’s why i waited for the impeachment, sad to say it didn’t. I am also one of those people who do not want to rally side by side with the estrada forces.I would not wish that my participation in making a crooked path straight will be muddled by the hidden intentions and purposes of these sinister forces. I am beginning to believe that GMA herself is approving the rally of the Estrada forces to scare a number of middle and up to this point quite forces from joining the streets.



October 17th, 2005 at 1:26 pm

well said Toro. We have the same view and include me to the lets sleeping dogs lie. I’m one of those just like you. I will not let myself carried away by emotions, I have to think and think and think… first before i decide. Many bloggers here I believe will branded us as Pro-GMA, but i don’t care coz i know inside our mind and our heart we’re definitely not. Just like what you’ve said parang may kulang, something is missing in this situation and i don’t know still what it is. We all believe that PGMA really done bad things to this country but parang may nawawalang something na hinahanap natin para matanggal siya. Maybe the military factor or walang maituturing na talagang lider ang oposisyon at kanya kanya silang may sariling interes but i still don’t know. Parang may kulang talaga for a people power. Pero siguro magkamali lang ng isang move si PGMA at yun na yun, baka yun na ang kulang na hinahanap natin. And after that kung mapaalis man natin si GMA i agree with you it will be a chaos again. A chaos not in the street but in the political arena. Back to political bickering again by this groups that will hold power. Absolutely they will fight with each other because of personal interest.



October 18th, 2005 at 9:59 pm

i certainly would want to join in the discussion but as i’ve said i have only simple thoughts coming from my simple mind. we’re very honored (as i’m sure pcij is also very honored) to hear from some of our “erudites”. how i wish these thinking men would be like the “thinking” men in congress!

i would just like to reiterate to our lawmakers the value of distinguishing a terrorist from a mere dissenter. the anti-terror bill casts a very wide net to include a militant citizen sick and tired of atrocities (not just physical but likewise mental…perhaps, spiritual as well?) by the government. no law should be passed curtailing our basic rights! the bill has its innate infirmities. they (the lawmakers) should heed our voices and heal it before it becomes another “invalid” law (much the same way as BP880) that will cripple us because it can be interpreted by anyone just to suit his fancy.

yes, arturo, if the anti-terror law would be just a step in curbing terrorism (or as one step in the anti-terror preparedness plan) and just be enforced on an emergency basis then it may really be justifiable. the detention clause in the bill may be viewed like the containment and source- or contact-tracing of an epidemic (empiric response is first given the patients while confirmatory tests are being done to come up with the right diagnosis and the appropriate treatment – this may take days). however, this law is just a “reactionary” law and not really a “preventive” or a proactive law (as dawin declared to become an effective law).

as regards dubya, Washington “has considered Southeast Asia as the ‘second front’ in the war on terrorism and has thus bolstered security assistance to Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand to help deal with this threat.” security assistance is defined as U.S. government assistance aimed at training or equipping foreign security forces (military and police). sorry to say, but dubya has dipped his finger into our cup of anti-terror plans (how i wish the coffee’s scalding hot!). anyway, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reviews human rights infringements to regulate assistance to us ( ).

a new era of water “canonization” has taken place. alas, still no people power? truly, malcolm gladwell’s “tipping factor” is not yet at hand (my comments in , although the “power of context” now is the prevailing “creeping martial law.”)…



October 19th, 2005 at 4:55 am

Let me just clarify fewer points why in fewer spaces I have consistently been arguing over issues I consider crucial in these times of uncertainty, terrorism by just the hint can truly make one’s day really messy. The thought can make nights horrible and sleepless, especially watching news on cable making every wakeful morning really terrorizing enough, no work is ever as good as the rest, a bad day all the time.

But ‘asymmetric warfare’ by how Rizalist points of inexplicable connotations of unseen enemies, origin/s of which are so unknown therefore there should be laws to check on people, violate a little of what may be shrinking territories of what should constitute our rights as human being, people who are people to be themselves, and from amongst other citizens in peaceful proactive coexistence assimilate into the one ‘nationhood’ thing as equals free from undue violations. All told, I could be sounding like Merlin in Never land.

I beg to disagree in some sense disheveled because as citizens, we have in fact been so exposed to terrorism as old as the Beatles and the Monkees, times during the 60’s when life was so simple and mild enough to enjoy; Pinoys topping the heap from amongst peers in Asia and really loving to drive around in T-birds and Mustangs, broom-broom along then Dewey boulevard, nights to date pretty girls, wow good old’ days!

If memories may not fail, we were way ahead of the Al Qaeda 9/11 of today’s terror grid when at one time our government recruited Muslims from Sulu to soldier surreptitiously for us to annex Sabah by military means, the offshoot of which ended with the tragic massacre of the poor recruits, this was the infamous Jabidah massacre.

Impeachment hooplas as then and as now; the seeming booby trappings of some bubbly personalities in strew of documents in frenzied flights; angry and rearing for blood couldn’t paint their world colorful enough, congressmen and congresswomen grandstanding to be noticed, we have had surely identical fits of anger then by our legislators, very serious enough it nearly brought us to war with our neighbor Malaysia, then and now, can one be knowing what constitutes terrorism?

I certainly am very sure I know I so know enough to say no cinch, I can’t buy antique riff-raffs of politicians, not anymore.

People Power could have gotten us off the hook, in fact, may have removed us from the aphorism of terror nay it be Osama Bin Laden or his likes had we really been attentive enough, but to no avail. Or are we really the people we claim to be?

Would Jamby Madrigal as a senate member be as forthwith regal enough to consider including the territorial problem we have with our neighbors such as the Sabah issue from amongst portfolio for juridical consideration she intends bringing up to the attention of the United Nations?

I know fully well and if perhaps you guys may share, the conflict in Mindanao started with the massacres in the infamous Corregidor killings because of the failed attempts to invade Sabah during the 60’s, has anyone been knowing Malaysia is actually hosting the peace talks to bring peace to Mindanao, can you believe it? Terror for terror, ASG JI & Al Qaeda are just byproducts of much of the shortcomings we started ourselves way way back, yes the 60’s! There would have been no war in Mindanao hadn’t it been for that little misadventure, so is this asymmetric warfare we can’t know?

Just two points: (1) The assassination of Ninoy Aquino and (2) The Sabah issue. If we can objectively handle confronting these issues, I don’t think we ever need to craft anti-terror laws we are so ‘asymmetric’ about.

Cory Aquino sitting as president failed to bring to heed her husband’s killers, because no justice was possible as then, senators shamelessly has asked money to give support to Michael Ray Aquino now detained by the US because of spying, a prime suspect in many summary killings
while he was with his boss Ping Lacson, now senator, as PAOCTF chief.

The failure of Cory Aquino may have cultivated criminals in the mold of Ferdinand Marcos to continue murdering people, so do we really need anti-terror laws? May I ask, are we possessing of the requisite infrastructure to sustain harsher laws that may be mishandled? Anti-terrorism measures should be a team effort, strategic to this is having our neighbors partake in the effort as a team, I am certain we may not be able handling matters of fighting terrorists by just ourselves.


tongue in, anew

October 19th, 2005 at 9:04 am

While this bill has been neglected since two congresses ago, the sudden urgency by which it is being treated now further fuels the suspicion that this bill will only serve its underlying purposes which sacrifices civil liberties to benefit the extant powerholder from moralist assaults, rather than to shield the citizens from terrorist attacks. Until the Gloriagate episodes, noisier proponents from the opposition, like Imee Marcos and Ping Lacson, have been complaining of disinterest and preclusion in both houses even just to calendar the anti-terror bill. It’s totally different today. The latest I heard, some co-authors have withdrawn their co-authorship.

Now, the brigands in congress have expressed renewed interest and fervor, long after Abu Sayyaf’s leadership (true terrorists, by any definition) has been effectively decimated and MILF is just about to sign a peace deal, drooling in anticipation of whatever icing on the cake the Government’s negotiators are baking. Who’s left to bear the brunt of the proposed law? The US-listed leftist orgs, of course. And those who will march side-by-side with them. Which explains the need to suspend peace talks with Joma’s groupies. Without terrorists, who needs an anti-terror law? The J.I. bogey is a tall tale concocted to make us believe the immminent danger is in our midst. Ditto for the explosive caches supposedly confiscated by authorities from people who always “cleverly eluded arrest”. Another fishing tale.

Defining “terrorism” will always be a dilemma, even the world’s brightest minds cannot come up with an acceptable definition in the U.N. given the fact that there is a thin line separating terrorism from rebellion. However, our locals have even gone overboard, look at Sec. 6 of the proposed law. Even wearing buttons that support an act of the terrorist constitutes conspiracy to comit terrorism. If I wear a button that says “Oust Gloria Now” as what the “terrorist” Bayan Muna followers may be wearing now, I may be penalized with 10-year imprisonment and a fine of P5million.

In London, a Bobby shot dead a Brazilian cab driver because he “looked like a terrorist” and didn’t even have to apologize for it.. When the bill is finally legislated, I will not be surprised to see the day that scene happening in Mendiola or Makati.

Most bloggers who are lukewarm to the anti-terror bill may have been convinced that additional extraordinary powers in the hands of the world’s newest dictator at a time when she has displayed her most incoherent, irrational self may prove to be more dangerous than C4 strapped onto a raghead raring to exclaim “Allahu Akbar!” and then flip the detonating switch afterwards.



October 24th, 2005 at 7:10 am

CHR and IHR on HOR’s anti-terror bill…



November 12th, 2005 at 6:09 am

toro said: “And I don’t believe Bush has anything to do with this. It’s just common sense that we know how to fight terrorism and we have the laws to protect our civil rights as well.”

in addition to my post above, dubya has dipped his finger into our cup of anti-terror plans:

“Arroyo has assured the US government of the passage of an anti-terrorism law to strengthen its own line of defense in the fight against the global menace.” more on this , article entitled “Arroyo to US: We’ll pass terror bill,” by Pia Lee-Brago, The Philippine Star 11/12/2005.



November 12th, 2005 at 4:29 pm

Baycas, I still believe with or without anybody telling us we do need an anti-terrorism law. I would not call it meddling if Bush wants to know our battle plan, I imagine as the world leader he should take the lead to make sure every one is prepared to fight a global war on terrorism.


INSIDE PCIJ » Congress to ratify anti-terror bill

February 17th, 2007 at 6:49 pm

[…] Many groups and legislators had been lobbying against the passage of such the anti-terror bill. They claim that the “broad and dangerous” definition of terrorism may render “people power” an act of terrorism. (See related posts here and here.) […]

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