MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Terrorist Tagging To Aid Arroyo's Mining Agenda

Published by MAC on 2005-10-05

Terrorist Tagging to Aid Arroyo’s Mining Agenda

LRC Press Release

October 5, 2005

The Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC), a policy and legal research and advocacy organization operating in Luzon and Mindanao, today expressed its alarm over the swift passage of the Anti-Terrorism Bill in the House Committees on Justice and Foreign Affairs. This development followed on the heels of the issuance of EO 464 and the announcement of the “calibrated preemptive response” policy of the Arroyo administration.

LRC noted that the bill that was passed contained the controversial provision which empowers the Justice Secretary to designate groups as “terrorist organizations”.

“Who will be held accountable for mistaken designation of an organization as a terrorist group?” asked Lodel Magbanua, LRC team leader for policy advocacy. “Too much power is granted to the designating authority without corresponding safeguards for the people who may be wrongfully tagged as terrorists.”

“Legitimate organizations, specially those critical of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s economic policies, are not terrorist groups and should not be subjected to restrictive measures for assisting communities through legal services in opposing destruction of their communities and environmental degredation,” said Magbanua.

“In her drive to promote extractive industries like large-scale mining and commercial tree plantations, she has already caused the short-cutting of free and prior informed consent requirements and environmental impact assessment procedures intended to protect both the environment and the rights of communities adversely affected by so-called development projects. The impending Anti-Terrorism Law will now give her means to crush community opposition to such environmentally-disastrous projects.

“We are worried that people’s organizations and non-governmental organizations opposed to mining are the next targets of terrorist tagging because this has happened before. In 2003, the Department of National Defense (DND) has publicly called NGOs and POs percieved as anti-mining as ‘economic saboteurs’ and as ‘linked to terrorist organizations’ simply for doing community work in areas affected by large-scale mining.” Magbanua said

“Its no secret that the impending Anti-Terrorism Law is intended to have a chilling effect on public criticism of government policies. The consequences for public participation in environmental decision-making is indeed tragic. We will be inviting repeats of the Marinduque Marcopper disaster,” he added.

LRC noted that under Section 8 of the Anti-Terrorism Bill, a group may be proscribed as a “terrorist organization” if “any member or members have committed an act of terrorism as defined” in the law. “This is clearly a case of collective punishment on the basis of guilt by association,” Magbanua remarked.

“The effectiveness of blacklisting of so-called terrorist organizations to curb terrorism is not a proven fact. On the contrary, it has generated a lot of complaints of human rights violations and it fosters escalation of conflict rather than dialogue between government and civil society,” Magbanua concluded.

Contact: Lodel Magbanua, Cellphone 9017-887-0109

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