A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
PHILIPPINES: The president fails to take decisive steps to end extrajudicial killings
The president of the Philippines Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo made her State of the Nation Address (SONA) during the 3rd Regular Session of the 13th Congress of the Republic of the Philippines. Except for mentioning her condemnation of political killings in the harshest possible terms and urging the witnesses to come forward, and mentioning that together we will stop extrajudicial executions, there was hardly any indication of any practical measures that the president will take in order to stop these killings. The president need not make any direct call to the armed forces to stop extrajudicial killings.
While the people's cooperation is necessary to achieve such a stop to the killings the primary responsibility for this lies entirely on the state, which is the president of the Philippines. Extrajudicial killings can happen only with her direct or indirect approval or by military or other forces acting directly contrary to her orders. In both instances the responsibility of undoing the wrong that is happening is with the president. Last week the Papal Nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Fernando Filoni condemned extrajudicial killings in the Philippines in the strongest terms and called for an immediate stop to this situation. He is quoted below:
“I am surprised to see that, in the Philippines, there is still an activity of high incidence of moral and political violence against those who profess different political ideologies, like the journalists, columnists and writers, among others,” he said.
“Whether it be the political or the religious point of view, it will truly be a contradiction, if on the one hand, we practically abolished the death penalty and yet, on the other hand, we are not respecting or implementing the (protected) rights of the human race,” the Papal Nuncio said.
Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, in the CBCP’s pastoral statement released last July 10, 2006, voiced stronger concern over extra-judicial killings.
“We join the outcry of groups that have denounced the increasing number of extra-judicial killings of journalists and social activists suspected as sympathizers of insurgents allegedly by some ultra-rightist elements in the military,” Lagdameo said.
The outrage of the Filipinos as well as concerned persons outside the Philippines at the extrajudicial killings in the country required a far greater resolute response on the part of the country's president. However, President Macapagal-Arroyo's statement made at the SONA does not reflect a resoluteness to discharge her obligations regarding this very serious matter.
The Asian Human Rights Commission urges the president and the government of the Philippines to give a clear message to the military to stop all extrajudicial killings and an equally strong message to the prosecutors to take all possible actions to prosecute the offenders. An unequivocable call on the part of the government can bring the extrajudicial killings done directly or indirectly by the military to an end within the shortest possible time of such a call. The nation deserves such a call to come from the president and the international community must pursue this matter strongly with the government of the Philippines.
We urge everyone to engage in active protests until this heinous practice is stopped in the Philippines. We urge them to hold peaceful and dignified protests everywhere and also call upon all to have prayer meetings and other solidarity actions both in the country and outside. We also invite everyone to take a very active part in promoting the on-line petition 'Stop extrajudicial killings in the Philippines now' and to encourage others to sign this petition. (Please follow this link http://www.pinoyhr.net/).
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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.
Posted on 2006-07-25