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Arroyo to sign proposed anti-terror law Tuesday

Despite strong objections from the opposition and militant groups, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will sign into law at 2:30 pm Tuesday the controversial anti-terrorism bill that Congress approved during a special session on February 19. The measure has been renamed as the Human Security Act of 2007. It has been a priority measure of the Arroyo administration. Cause-oriented and party-lits groups led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Anak Pawis and Gabriela earlier said they will file cases at the Supreme Court after Mrs Arroyo signs the anti-terror bill into law. The first of its kind was filed in Congress in 1995, as a consequence of the failed assassination plot against the late Pope John Paul II, who visited Manila in January that year. The succeeding versions of the anti-terror bill were triggered largely by the United States-led global war on terror, following the September 11, 2001 simultaneous attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, by Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network. Mrs Arroyo has aligned the Philippines with US President George W. Bush's "coalition of the willing" and vowed to squash armed groups in the Philippines supposedly connected with the Al-Qaeda. The US has formally tagged the Abu Sayyaf, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the New People's Army (NPA) as "terrorist groups." This was done even as the Arroyo government continues to conduct separate if middling peace talks with the political wings of the MILF and the NPA. Militant solons have insisted that some provisions of the bill are violating the Constitution and the basic human rights of Filipino citizens. They are referring to the provisions on the detention of a suspected terrorist up to 72 hours without charges; surveillance and wiretapping; extraordinary rendition of suspected or convicted terrorist to other countries; disallowing suspected terrorist to use any communication device and the house arrest. Salient provisions Among the salient sections of the measure are: * When one is charged with terrorism and the case is dismissed, he can no longer be charged with similar cases under the anti-terrorism bill. * Exclusion of military personnel from implementing or enforcing provisions of the bill. * Suspension of implementation of the bill one month before and two months after any election. The penalty for the crime of terrorism is 40 years imprisonment without parole. For an accomplice, the penalty is 17 to 20 years imprisonment, and 10 to 12 years for an accessory. - GMANews.TV