A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
PHILIPPINES: Three more shootings as violent pogrom is allowed to continue
The Asian Human Rights Commission is writing to condemn the continuing spree of extra-judicial killings that are plaguing the Philippines at present. Estimates from various sources indicate that over 700 such killings of political activists, journalists, lawyers, human rights defenders and members of the clergy have been perpetrated since 2001. It appears that, despite rising national and international concern and condemnation, the killings are ongoing and intensifying. This has again been underlined by the killing of thee persons today.
The Asian Human Rights Commission last week participated in a fact-finding mission from Hong Kong to the Philippines, comprising representatives of several sectors, including human rights organisations, journalists, lawyers and religious groups. Having interviewed members of victims' families, NGOs, sectoral representatives and members of the authorities, it became clear that, despite denials from the authorities, a clear pattern of politically motivated killings is present in the Philippines.
According to reports in newspapers, three persons have been shot earlier today (July 31), killing two of them and critically wounding the third. Dr. Constancio "Chandu" Claver and his wife Alice were ambushed by two men armed with an Armalite (rifle) and .45 calibre hand guns, who shot at them in front of St. Tony's college in Kalinga. Alice was dead on arrival at hospital and her husband, Constancio, is reported as being in a critical condition. According to a police report, the assailants alighted from a black van without a number plate and shot the couple. Dr. Constancio is reported to be a Bayan Muna political party official.
In a separate incident Rei Mon Guran, a 21-year-old student leader belonging to the League of Filipino Students, was shot four times and succumbed to his injuries. He was shot at a bus station in Zone Two, Bulan in Sosogon, by assailants riding a motorcycle. He was already dead on arrival at hospital.
In both cases the assailants are suspected to be from the military. The police are conducting inquiries. However, as in many such inquiries, it is most unlikely that the assailants will be arrested or any action taken. As the result of growing condemnation with regard to the high level of extra-judicial killings, the government of the Philippines set up a special task force, named Task Force Usig, in May 2006 to investigate allegations of political killings since 2001. The task force has yet to complete investigations into 80 of the 127 cases currently on its records - far fewer than the over 700 cases reported during this period. Its actions have only led to one conviction thus far. There are serious concerns about the task force's independence and its ability to effectively prosecute direct or indirect state actors that have carried out political killings.
The Asian Human Rights Commission, which has highlighted the spree of extrajudicial killings that are taking place in the Philippines, expresses shock and dismay at the complete indifference of Gloria Magapagal Arroyo's government and its failure to take any effective action to stop these killings, despite protests within the country and from overseas. The daylight killings by persons travelling in vehicles without numbers plates and on motorcycles suggest a pogrom of extrajudicial killings taking place in the country. Despite police protests that the numbers are exaggerated, it is quite clear that an intense programme of such killings is being allowed to continue. The police work appears to be designed more to cover up these killings and to undermine the accusations than to protect the citizens of the Philippines, and to effectively investigate any allegations of politically motivated killings in order to enable justice to be done.
Three persons being shot within a single day, resulting in two deaths, as has been confirmed by the police authorities, does not leave much to the imagination in understanding how widespread these acts of extrajudicial killings are at present. Even in countries where there have been such pogroms and extrajudicial killings in recent times, three persons being attacked within a single day is a very high number.
The Asian Human Rights Commission calls upon the international community, including the UN agencies and European Commission to monitor this situation carefully and send experts to the Philippines to perform fact finding missions of their own. The current crisis is one of the most serious situations of extrajudicial killings to be experienced in Asia in recent times. Unfortunately, the killings appear to be being carried out with the direct or indirect approval of the government. Therefore, without serious international intervention and internal protests, this situation is unlikely to change. Before more lives are lost, the international community must make a serious intervention on this issue. The embassies and consulates based in Manila must create diplomatic pressure to bring this situation to an end.
Kindly sign on to AHRC's online petition concerning extra-judicial killings in the Philippines at: 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 2006-07-31