Sunday, July 15, 2007

Wait, do Bush and Cheney run the Philippines?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Sure looks like it. Or else, that poor country has become, as it was under Marcos, a Bush-Cheney paradise of authoritarianism:

A tough new anti-terrorism law has come into effect in the Philippines.

The Human Security Act allows the government to detain suspects for up to three days without charge, use wiretaps and also seize suspects' assets.

The government in Manila says the law will help it to tackle militant groups, such as Abu Sayyaf.

But critics, including the Roman Catholic Church, fear the law could be used to quell legitimate political dissent in the country.

It isn't every day that I find myself in agreement with the Church, but, so be it, the Church is right on this. Given that democracy is so fragile in the Philippines, the likelihood of abuse of power is significant, if not certain. (For more on the bill, see here, when it was passed earlier this year: Critics "fear [President Gloria] Arroyo -- already facing criticism over hundreds of extra-judicial killings in the country -- will use the law to curb civil liberties and to crack down on her political adversaries." You think?)

But, then, the U.S. has a much less fragile democracy and look what Bush and Cheney have done. There has been a good deal of opposition to their many and varied abuses of power, and that opposition is stronger, but the abuses continue.

The U.S. has the Patriot Act, now in a subsequent iteration, the Philippines has the Human Security Act. Are they not one and the same, more or less? The Philippine government uses Abu Sayyaf to stoke public fear and to justify its authoritarian efforts, the U.S. government, or at least the Bush Administration, uses al Qaeda, along with nebulous threats of imminent attack, to do much the same. The Philippine government opposes dissent, and Bush and Cheney aren't exactly fond of it. Mrs. Arroyo, you have good friends in the White House.

In both countries, as elsewhere in the Orwellian world, it is all about using some Enemy to secure ever more power, and any Enemy will do. Yes, al Qaeda, Abu Sayyaf, and groups like them are legitimate threats -- I do not doubt that -- but they are being used for a decidedly political purpose everywhere from Washington to Manila. And, yes, that's part of how and why terrorism works. Even if no act is committed, terror triumphs.

If Bush and Cheney haven't yet heard about the Human Security Act, let's hope they don't get any ideas once it comes to their attention. It's right up their alley.

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  • Perhaps you need to look just a lil closer to realize how strange your present views are.

    Just this past week the Abu Sayyaf BEHEADED ten Philippine Marines after capturing them on Basilan Island.

    That's not a nebulous threat or something the President is using as an excuse to suppress civil rights.

    Those are real extrajudicial beheadings. The problem of terrorism in the Philippines is real. We were attacked by AQ even before 9/11 so excuse me if I take exception to your description of things of which you obviously know very lil.

    Find out more! Help don't hype! We lost 14 men this week, ten of them are in pieces we are still sorting out.

    By Blogger Deany Bocobo, at 3:18 AM  

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