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Philippines government to proceed with controversial anti-terror law

[JURIST] The government of the Philippines Tuesday rejected a request [statement] by the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) that the 2007 Human Security Act be revisited [JURIST report], as Filipino presidential spokesperson Ignacio Bunye said the controversial law had already experienced "exhaustive debates" in the legislature and that delaying its July 15 implementation could "embolden terrorists." Bunye instead urged the CBCP to support the law and supervise its implementation. Also Tuesday, the Filipino government announced a "massive public information and advocacy campaign" [press release] to accompany the implementation of the Human Security Act [PDF text] and highlight "the existence of terror cells in the region and throughout the world." National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales said Tuesday that the new law is designed to protect the rights of innocent people [press release] against terrorism.

The CBCP, the official organization of the Catholic episcopacy in the Philippines, is highly influential as nearly 81 percent of the Filipino population is Catholic. In March, a United Nations human rights expert urged [statement; JURIST report] the Philippines to amend or repeal the anti-terrorism law because it allows house arrests without strong evidence of guilt and transfers the power to review detentions to the executive branch instead of an independent judicial body. AFP has more.

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