EVEN AS the Left and the opposition were very noisily claiming that it was a prelude to the imposition of martial law, the Human Security Act (actually the anti-terrorism law) was passed in 2007. Its provisions enabled the Arroyo administration to contain terrorism.
One of the law’s key features, intended to create a strong institution that is alert and capable of fighting terrorism, is the seven-member Anti-Terrorism Council. Under the law, the executive secretary serves as its chair, with the justice secretary as vice chair. The other members of the council are the secretaries of national defense, foreign affairs, interior and local government, and finance as well as the national security adviser. Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and even his successor who served at that post for only four months, Leandro Mendoza, convened the council every month.
Since President Aquino assumed power nearly seven months ago, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa has not called a single meeting of the council. Not even the warning in November by governments of the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States of an impending terrorist act in the country in November convinced Ochoa to convene the council.