• Friday, November 30, 2007

    President, senior officials respond to the Special Rapporteur’s report on the Philippines

    President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo made some comments on the report of the Special Rapporteur:

    President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has taken the cudgels to defend her administration’s policy on political killings as she vowed to intensify the prosecution and conviction of rogue police and military elements.

    “We are one of the few member countries of the United Nations that have allowed the entry of their special rapporteur. We are open to observation and whatever help they can give us in instituting effective measures for investigation and prosecution to result in the conviction of those who engage in extrajudicial killings,” Mrs. Arroyo said during the closing ceremony of the 5th Local Peace and Security Assembly held at Villa Escudero in San Pablo, Laguna, yesterday.

    “The soldiers and police who might be involved in these killings are not authorized to do so. It is not our policy to promote or condone that,” the President added.

    Mrs. Arroyo broke her silence for the first time since the report of UN special reporter Philip Alston was made public on Tuesday.

    Alston claimed that the Philippine military had systematically hunted down leftist activists in the course of its anti-insurgency campaign even as he made it clear that the administration does not have a policy of political killings as means to address security and political problems.

    “I believe that 99.9 percent of our police and military are respectful of human rights. So those involved are just a percentage of less than 1 percent. But we will investigate, prosecute and convict these people,” the President insisted.

    Early this week, Mrs. Arroyo ordered the creation of a high-level “task force against political violence” to be headed by Justice Undersecretary Ric Blancaflor to handle all cases involving political killings, including the ones being handled or monitored by the National Police’s Task Force Usig and the Armed Forces.

    Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita has also made some additional comments:

    At his weekly news conference, Executive Secretary Eduardo R. Ermita on Wednesday said the government maintains its position that as a matter of policy, all necessary steps have been taken to get to the bottom of these killings and bring the perpetrators to justice.

    “We are not going to do any counter-action because there is nothing to counter-act except to prove what we have been announcing all along: that first, this (extra-judicial killings) is not government policy,” he said.

    “Second, there is a determination on the part of the national leadership represented by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to stop all these unexplained killings.

    “Third, the measures that we have been doing (to probe these killings); and

    “Fourth, we hope that this will satisfy our observers,” Ermita said.

    . . .

    The Malacanang official called for balanced reporting on the issue, saying media should take time to thoroughly read Alston’s report and highlight not only the bad things in it but also the favorable ones.

    “To be fair, kindly take a look at the entirety of the report so that the Philippines, which is our country, will not be pictured in a very bad light,” Ermita said.

  • Wednesday, November 28, 2007

    Editorial in the Inquirer on Special Rapporteur’s report on the Philippines

    An editorial in the Inquirer today discussed the Special Rapporteur’s report and said that “those who care for out country ought to read it”:

    The final report of United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston on “extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions” in the Philippines is unsettling but essential reading. Those who care for our country ought to read it. It is not merely an indictment of the military for its role in the killings, it is also a comprehensive indictment of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration itself.

    We say comprehensive, because while the focus of the report is on the administration’s appalling human rights record, the pattern of official policy and unofficial mendacity, the culture of impunity, that has come to mark the administration and its allies (and that is accurately reflected in the final report) explain other failures of the administration, too.

    Let’s consider some of the less written-about findings. Some of Alston’s sharpest words, for example, are aimed at Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. Her office, he writes, “has done almost nothing in recent years to investigate the involvement of government officials in extrajudicial executions.” That kind of track record is simply indefensible, but Alston, a professor of law, probes deeper and concludes that the “Office of the Ombudsman has surrendered its constitutionally-mandated independence from the executive branch.” Considering the special role the powerful office plays in the administration of justice, this is a chilling but not unjustified conclusion. What exactly does he mean by that? He offers several answers, including possibly the most damaging of them all: “The Office of the Ombudsman often operates as a de facto subsidiary of the Department of Justice.”

    That a constitutional officer like Gutierrez, one of the few so-called impeachable officials in the government, finds herself effectively a subordinate to a rankly political alter ego of the President like Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez is a legal calamity. It explains why, as Alston writes, “Despite having received a significant number of complaints alleging extrajudicial executions attributed to state agents, no information was provided by the Ombudsman’s office indicating that it had undertaken any productive investigations.” It also explains why, to give just one of many possible examples, the Mega-Pacific anomaly became the perfect crime.

    Alston also takes aim at National Security Adviser Bert Gonzales: “Senior government officials are attempting to use prosecutions to dismantle the numerous civil society organizations and party-list groups that they believe to be fronts for the CPP [Communist Party of the Philippines]. While this project is sometimes discussed as if it were a dark conspiracy, it was explained to me openly and directly by numerous officials as the very function of IALAG [Inter-Agency Legal Action Group], which was established in 2006.” And who runs IALAG? Real “institutional power and legal authority over its operations is concentrated in the Office of the National Security Adviser.”

    Alston concludes: “The most deleterious role played by IALAG bodies may be to encourage prosecutors to act as team players with the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] and PNP [Philippine National Police] in counterinsurgency operations and to de-prioritize cases involving the deaths of leftist activists.” This explains not only the rehashed charges against party-list leaders but also the administration’s convenient resurrection, as necessity dictates, of the communist bogeyman.

    Alston also takes Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to task for the killings (over 500 since 1998) commonly attributed to the so-called Davao Death Squad. “The mayor’s positioning is frankly untenable: He dominates the city so thoroughly as to stamp out whole genres of crime, yet he [says he] remains powerless in the face of hundreds of murders committed by men without masks in view of witnesses.” This is the same mayor whom the President calls on for law and order advice, which helps explain the administration’s cavalier attitude toward killings and its embrace of generals who leave a trail of blood behind, like Jovito Palparan.

    It was the Arroyo administration that invited the United Nations to send an expert to investigate the extrajudicial killings; it made sense to do so, even if only from a public-relations perspective. But now that Alston’s final and damning report is in, will the administration try to use PR to kill the message and shoot the messenger?

  • Wednesday, November 28, 2007

    Responses of House representatives to the Special Rapporteur’s report on the Philippines

    A number of members of the Philippines House have responded to the Special Rapporteur’s report:

    A joint statement was made by five members of the House, Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casino, Crispin Beltran, Liza Maza, and Luzviminda Ilagan:

    JOINT STATEMENT

    November 28, 2007

    The report of United Nations Human Rights Commission Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Philip Alston is an affirmation of our long standing position that the intensified extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the country, since 2001 emanates from the highest level of state policy on counter-insurgency.

    The report zeroes in on the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Operational Plan (Oplan) Bantay Laya and the National Internal Security Plan approved by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the blueprint for counter-insurgency target research, casing and the resultant extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of civilians, mostly activists.

    It criticizes and calls for the abolition of the Malacañang-created Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG), the super body tasked to prosecute leaders of peoples’ organizations and progressive party-lists and, that undermines the justice system and other democratic institutions.

    The Alston report is correct to highlight the AFP’s continued state of denial on the extrajudicial killings. The AFP’s continuing state of denial is part and parcel of the administration’s systematic cover up of its accountability on the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, rampant corruption, widespread electoral fraud, and other high crimes.

    This administration’s bloody game of political survival must stop. In the wake of the Alston report, we challenge Mrs. Arroyo to:

    1) Immediately fire National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and AFP Chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr., who are primarily responsible for the counter-insurgency program;

    2) Dismantle the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group and drop all bogus criminal cases against progressive legislators and other activists;

    3) Scrap the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ National Internal Security Plan Bantay Laya 1 and 2;

    4) Immediately issue a general order to the AFP to stop engaging in extrajudicial killings, report those who are involved and exact the maximum punishment under Philippine laws;

    5) Order the immediate surfacing of all desaparecidos.

    REP. SATUR C. OCAMPO

    REP. TEDDY A. CASIÑO

    REP. CRISPIN B. BELTRAN

    REP. LZA L. MAZA

    REP. LUZVIMINDA C. ILAGAN

    Akbayan party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros said the report was an embarrassing rebuke to the government and the military establishment.

    Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño sought Gonzales’ resignation, accusing him of being behind the military policy of going after leftist activists.

    Representative Risa Hontiveros:

    Calling the Alston Report an embarrassing rebuke to the government and the military before the international community, AKBAYAN Rep. Risa Hontiveros said that the government, in particular the AFP, has already run out of excuses and must act decisively to stop extrajudicial killings.

    “The government may find the Alston Report harsh, but it is just the first issue leveled against the Philippine government due to its poor human rights record. Early next year, the Philippines will be part of the first batch of countries whose fulfillment of human rights obligations will be scrutinized by the Human Rights Council,” Rep. Hontiveros revealed. “Under the Council’s Universal Periodic Review mechanism, the Philippines would suffer more humiliation if it fails to stop and resolve cases of extrajudicial killings.”

    “Lying through its teeth is no longer enough. Rather than deny that fact that the military is behind these killings, it should wield political will to put an end to this grave and atrocious violation of human rights and civil liberties,” Rep. Hontiveros said. “What the report says is that there is a de facto policy in the AFP to kill leftist activists.

    The fix should begin within the Executive, from the Office of the President and Cabinet members. “As the Commander-in-Chief, GMA has the obligation to correct the abuses committed by AFP. Even while the powers of the Executive which she has abused should be clipped, she should clip as well the wings of the hawks in the Cabinet, especially those who pushed for the abandonment of the peace process in favor of attacking the allied organizations of the Communist Party,” Rep. Hontiveros added.

    She likewise challenged the government to implement security sector reforms and seriously undertake a paradigm shift in order to revive the peace process.

    “These attacks against leftist groups can only happen in a situation where the military is politicized and partisan. When anti-GMA activists are seen as threats to the political survival of the administration, it becomes easy for a partisan AFP to rationalize these attacks,” Rep. Hontiveros said, adding that perpetrators of extrajudicial killings should be made to pay for their crime.

    There is an urgent need to renounce the militarist framework of the government in resolving the armed conflict. “This climate makes it difficult to hold perpetrators of extrajudicial killings, be they AFP soldiers or NPA combatants, accountable to universally recognized human rights and international humanitarian principles. A new peace framework should be pursued, where political solutions are given priority over guns and bombs,” she said.

  • Wednesday, November 28, 2007

    Responses of Senators to the Special Rapporteur’s report on the Philippines

    There have been a range of responses to the Special Rapporteur’s report from Philippines senators:

    Senator Juan Ponce-Enrile:

    Sen. Juan Ponce-Enrile dismissed the report as a “clerical job” that merely laid down the facts without making any conclusions on the brains behind the extrajudicial killings.

    “Unless he can name the person behind the killings, he (Alston) should just shut up,” Enrile told reporters.

    Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago:

    Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago described Alston’s report as a “fair” and “even-handed” document that merely dismissed the “internal purge” theory.

    She said the government should make a determined effort to educate soldiers that violence should not be used to kill people anonymously and instill fear among the public.

    “This administration should be crystal clear in stating that it will not tolerate any form of violence,” she said.

    Senator Loren Legarda:

    Senator Loren Legarda said yesterday that the Philippines cannot just brush aside the indictment made by a United Nations (UN) special rapporteur that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was allegedly behind extra-judicial killings in the country.

    Loren said that the report of UN Human Rights Council investigator Philip Alston was “troubling” in that it practically claimed the killings to be state-sanctioned.

    “The claim that there is a systematic execution of activists, trade unionists, land reform advocates and other similarly oriented individuals calls for a full-blown investigation by the Senate,” said Loren.

    Loren said the Senate would like to look at the evidence used by Alston to come up with his conclusion.

    “The government cannot just sweep Alston’s findings under the rug not only because it carried the weight of the UN body,” said Loren.

    “More importantly, we must look into these so we can put a stop to the extra-judicial killings and to be able to give justice to the victims,” she stressed.

    Alston dismissed the contention of the AFP that the killings were a result of “internal purges” in the communist ranks.

    Loren said that no government can adopt a policy of extra-judicial killings to survive, thus the administration must resolve to bring to the bar of justice those who may have been identified as being behind the killings.

    “The killers and masterminds must be identified and made to pay for their crimes. This is the only way to prove that the killings are not being condoned,” said Loren.

    A reservist colonel of the Philippine Air Force, Loren said the majority of the men and women in uniform in the armed forces are God-fearing, patriotic and fulfill their call of duty professionally.

    “To just brush aside Alston’s claim would do injustice to our soldiers who have nothing to do with any unlawful killings,” she said.

  • Wednesday, November 28, 2007

    Communist Party of the Philippines responds to Special Rapporteur’s report

    The Communist Party of the Philippines has issued a statement on the Special Rapporteur’s report:

    CPP spokesperson Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal said the Alston report thoroughly exposes all the lies, subterfuges and fascist policies and atrocities of the Arroyo regime and its security and defense agencies and officials. “The Alston report has helped significantly in pinpointing the standing fascist policy and designs of the Arroyo regime as the motivating factor behind the spate of extrajudicial killings perpetrated by the government armed forces. The Arroyo regime’s all-out war against the revolutionary forces and its fascist and antipeople counterinsurgency policy and campaign have resulted in the widespread trampling of the people’s democratic and human rights.”

    Rosal expressed confidence that the Alston report will help draw more attention to the dire human rights situation and intensifying fascism in the Philippines under the Arroyo government and help embolden the Filipino people in defending their rights and opposing the present regime and its security and military forces’ campaign of fascist violence.

    “At the same time,” Rosal said that “there remains a pressing need to expose and underscore the several thousand other cases of military abuses victimizing hundreds of thousands of people, including the forced evacuations of peasant communities, food and economic blockades, aerial bombings and strafings, arbitrary arrests, illegal detentions, torture and harassment perpetrated by the armed forces in the course of its operations in the countryside and in urban poor areas.”

    Rosal also took note of the concerns raised by Professor Alston regarding the revolutionary judicial system and the promulgations by people’s courts against those found guilty of grave criminal and counterrevolutionary offenses.

    Rosal asserted that “While the revolutionary movement and its governmental and judicial bodies make judgments and takes action against criminal and counterrevolutionary offenses outside the framework of the existing reactionary state and justice system, these judgments and actions are based on an autonomous revolutionary political and justice system that has its own integrity and at the same time is synchronized with international law and conventions, and thus are not at all ‘extrajudicial’.”

    The CPP spokesperson said, at the same time, that “While the existing revolutionary government and justice system is basically formed and already applied in practice, it is still young, full of vibrance and in the process of developing alongside the growth in expanse and advance of the people’s war, and is thus wide open to further systematization and much improvement.”

    Rosal said that he will send Professor Alston a copy of relevant documents regarding the revolutionary movement’s governmental and judicial system, including the “Guide for the establishment of a People’s Democratic Government,” “The People’s Court” and relevant primers that are being studied by all Party members, Red fighters of the New People’s Army (NPA), officials of revolutionary government bodies, members of revolutionary people’s courts, officials and members of revolutionary mass organizations.

    Rosal also assured the UNHRC Special Rapporteur that the CPP and the revolutionary forces and all those active in the formation and administration of the revolutionary government and justice system also continue to study relevant documents of international humanitarian law including relevant Geneva conventions and protocols. “The entire revolutionary movement under the leadership of the CPP strives to strictly abide by international humanitarian law, as well as its own rules and revolutionary ethics, as it carries forward the people’s war and advances its own revolutionary governmental and justice system.”

  • Friday, November 30, 2007

    Military officers make further comments on the Special Rapporteur’s report

    General Hermogenes Espeon, chief of staff of the armed forces, has made some further comments on the Special Rapporteur’s report:

    “The AFP is not denying that some of our elements have been involved in those unexplained killings just the way the PNP, the NPA, and some civilians are, but we are dealing with them as strictly as possible,” Esperon said.

    He was referring to the investigation made by Task Force Usig which released a total of 51 cases, 7 of which involved the military, 21 the civilians, 1 from the PNP, and 24 from the New People’s Army (NPA).

    During the press conference, Esperon admitted that the findings have saddened the entire AFP as this would not hold true in general especially that the AFP has long been upholding human rights ever since.

    Esperon announced that from a small office before, he has now directed the elevation of the AFP Human Rights Office into a bigger one that is directly under him.

    “In fact, there are now two cases of AFP elements that are being handled by the General Court Martial. We will continue to be strict in handling these cases,” he added.

    However, the AFP chief questioned the reliability of the study made by an expert investigator who, according to him only gathered information and stayed in the Philippines in just 10 days.

    “Alston didn’t even learn about the cases of Rano, Tabarra, and former mayor Libayao of Talaingod. He should have listened to the indigenous people who have more to say about these killings.”

    Esperon said that he was able to meet with Alston during the conduct of the investigation and submitted some documents, but according to him ” Alston disregarded some of the most important cases.”

    A senior military commander in the Visayas made the following comments:

    Maj. Gen. Victor Ibrado, Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command chief in the Visayas, yesterday maintained that it is not government and AFP policy to engage in extra judicial killings, following a United Nations special rapporteur’s report on the issue.

    “It is not government or AFP policy to kill leftist activists,” Ibrado stressed.

    “If people have evidence and witnesses against anyone in my unit, we will deliver them to the police and the courts”, he said.

    Ibrado said the troops under him are constantly reminded to uphold human rights. “Extra judicial killings will never help in solving the problem, we know that.”

    “Extra judicial killings are not in any way part of our strategy or concept for counter insurgency,” he also said.

    “We cannot condemn our people immediately once a complaint is made without witnesses and evidence, but we will facilitate investigations if needed,” Ibrado also said.

    A senior military commander in eastern Mindanao made the following comments:

    THE United Nations’ report blaming the Armed Forces of the Philippines for most of the extrajudicial killings in the country is a “sweeping statement” and inaccurate.

    This was how the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command chief Lieutenant General Cardoso Luna, described the report made by Philip Alston released Monday.

    Alston, an Australian academic assigned by the UN Human Rights Council to look into the executions, said in his final report that the military had killed leftist activists as part of a campaign against communists.

    Luna said a crime is never and will never be sanctioned by the Armed Forces of the Philippines as an organization. He said that if ever some soldiers indeed committed such crimes then they did these on their own and not as part of their duty as soldiers.

    Luna assured the public that in the Eastmincom area, no extrajudicial killings will be ordered against any government detractors. He said the UN must instead point its fingers at the New People’s Army for many of the summary executions committed in the past years.

    “Strikingly unconvincing” was however the observation made by Alston on the claim of Philippine authorities that the extrajudicial killings of leftist activists were a result of internal purges in the communist ranks.

  • Friday, November 30, 2007

    Opinion pieces commenting on the Special Rapporteur’s report on the Philippines

    A number of newspaper columnists have commented on the Special Rapporteur’s report:

    Ram Maxey, “A man named Alston", Sun Star Davao, 30 November 2007

    Jun Ledesma, “The tall tale of Philip Alston", Sun Star Davao, 30 November 2007

  • Wednesday, November 28, 2007

    Government responses to report on killings in the Philippines

    On Monday, Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, released a report on his fact-finding mission to the Philippines. In that report, he concluded that:

    “[In some parts of the country,] the leaders of leftist organizations are systematically hunted down. Those who may know their whereabouts may be interrogated and tortured. A campaign of vilification designed to instill fear into the community follows, and the individual is often killed as a result. Such attacks and the attendant fear can lead to the disintegration of organized civil society. One person I met called the result ‘the peace of the dead’. This practice reflects more than the mere ‘excesses’ of a particular commander. Rather, it is a deliberate strategy in keeping with the overall trajectory of counterinsurgency thinking at the national level. . . . There is impunity for extrajudicial executions. No one has been convicted in the cases involving leftist activists, and only six cases involving journalists have resulted in convictions.


    What follows is a round-up of responses to the report by government officials.

    The Manila Times provides the response of Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita:

    “This report is the same as Mr. Alston’s initial finding after his 10-day investigation on extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. We’re not bothered by this report as long as we are doing everything to address human rights issues in this country,” Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said.

    Ermita also appealed to the media to read and analyze the entirety of the UN report and avoid highlighting the portions that contains Alston’s opinion that implicates the Armed Forces.

    The Philippine Star has a comment from the President’s Press Secretary, Ignacio Bunye:

    Malacañang reiterated yesterday that the administration has been addressing the issue of unexplained killings and the government has no policy of tolerating human rights violations committed by the military.

    Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said that President Arroyo “has faced the issue of extrajudicial killings forthrightly and directly both at home and with foreign governments.”

    Bunye pointed out that among the measures taken by the President to address the problem was the creation of the Melo Commission to get to the bottom of the issue.

    Malacañang created the independent Commission to Address Media and Activists Killings, headed by retired Supreme Court justice Jose Melo.

    Bunye said that the commission’s recommendations have been seriously followed by the Arroyo administration.

    “We continue to take steps to make foreign governments and entities aware of the actions the Philippine government is taking to bring an end to the age old problem of political violence that has been an unfortunate part of Philippine political culture,” Bunye said.

    General Hermogenes Esperon, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines:

    Armed Forces chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon on Wednesday criticized the final report of UN rapporteur Philip Alston, who earlier affirmed that the Arroyo administration, through the military, had been carrying out a national policy of killing leftist activists

    Esperon said Alston’s report was “half-baked” because the latter only spent 10 days in the Philippines before he came out with the report that solely blamed the military for the killings.

    “I wish Mr. Alston had better and more complete sources. He was here for 10 days and suddenly he’s an expert in human rights in the Philippines, much more an expert in insurgency in the Philippines,” Esperon said during the 2nd Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Convention for Peace and Development at the Royal Mandaya Hotel in Davao City.

    He said the AFP never denied that some soldiers were involved in extrajudicial killings. However, Esperon said the admission didn’t mean that Alston could all together blame the military, and conclude that the AFP was not doing anything to solve the killings and punish the perpetrators.

    Esperon said two soldiers, one an enlisted personnel, and the other an officer were already facing court martial proceedings for the killing of radio broadcaster Rolly Cañete in Pagadian City in January 2006, and a Sangguniang Kabataan chairperson in Rizal, Cagayan province on December 13, 2006.

    “Had he (Alston) stayed longer or had he talked to more people other than those people that gave him the initial data, then he could have known more about the real situation of human rights in the Philippines,” the AFP chief said.

    . . .

    But Esperon said the military was not into condoning these killings.

    “(Human rights) is institutionalized in our promotion system, it is institutionalized in our values system,” he said.

    Alston’s report, according to Esperon “is blind on one side (as it) only sees the other side.”

    The response of the head of the Philippines National Police task force to investigate the killings of journalists and leftist activists, Jefferson Soriano, is printed by the AP:

    Police Director Jefferson Soriano, however, said victims slain by rebels and insurgents “far outnumber the killings attributed by the leftists to the government.”

    “From the evidence we have gathered, there is no official or sanctioned policy on the part of the military or its civilian supporters to resort to illegal liquidations,” he told reporters.

    He challenged the figure of more than 800 people killed since 2001, provided by the left-wing Karapatan group and used in Alston’s report.

    Soriano said the number “is blown up and misleading.” Out of 114 cases investigated by police, 57 were filed in court, with 24 attibuted to communist rebels, who have waged a rural-based Maoist insurgency for the last four decades, he said.

    He said another seven cases implicated soldiers or paramilitary units.

    “Not all of the killings are politically motivated,” he said. “The claim that all of the killings were perpetrated by the military and police is preposterous.”

    The responses of Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and others in the foreign ministry are in Xinhua:

    Armed Forces public information chief Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro denied the allegations of Alston.

    “It has never been a policy of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) to conduct such activities,” he said. “As an organization, the AFP will never tolerate any of its members to trample upon the rights of the people whom we are duty-bound to serve.”

    On the other hand, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo said it was not necessary to counter Alston’s report since the government has made a detailed report that included steps taken to resolve the problem.

    Leaders and representatives of other countries were receptive to the government’s report, he said.

    Romulo said an assessment should be made on the government’s detailed report on the killings and the action taken by the Commission on Human Rights, the Presidential Human Rights Committee, the military and the police.

    The Supreme Court set up 99 special courts to try cases of extrajudicial killings in response to Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s action strengthening the Witness Protection Program, he added.

    Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Policy Enrique Manalo, a former ambassador to the UN, said the government was taking urgent action to stop the extrajudicial killings and to identify and prosecute the perpetrators.

    Based on the Presidential Human Rights Committee’s inventory, 60 cases of extrajudicial killings have been brought to court since 2001, he added.

    Another response from the foreign ministry is in the Philippine Star:

    Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for special concerns Rafael Seguis said the government does not agree with Alton’s report because the administration has been trying to solve the killings.

    “The department does not fully agree with everything in the report. We are doing everything to address the extrajudicial killings and we are taking all the measures to put an end to it. The President has announced the measures to stop it,” Seguis said.

    The Philippines was one of the few countries that extended an invitation to Alston to investigate the issue of unexplained killings.

    While in the country, Alston was given access to government officials, including key officials of the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police.

    He was even granted an audience with the President during his visit last February.

    Alston visited Manila, Baguio and Davao in the course of his investigation.

    During his mission, the Special Rapporteur also investigated the actions of a death squad operating in Davao City and concluded:

    The mayor’s position that he can do nothing to stop men without masks from routinely killing children for petty crimes in full view of witnesses lacks all credibility. Mayor Duterte should be stripped of his control over the local police, and the national government should assume responsibility for dismantling the death squad and prosecuting its members.

    The mayor’s reaction is in the Philippine Star:

    Duterte shrugged off Alston’s recommendation as rubbish.

    “It’s all pure rubbish and all conclusions,” Duterte told The STAR.

    The mayor said that he would leave his fate to the Napolcom.

    Napolcom Southern Mindanao regional director Maria Luisa Opina said Alston’s report would be taken up by their head office.

    Opina said that the law provides that the grounds for withdrawal of deputization shall include the abuse of authority, frequent and unauthorized absences of the local chief executive to supervise the police, providing material support to criminals, and engaging in acts inimical to national security.

    PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Samuel Pagdilao Jr. also downplayed Alston’s allegations, especially on the recommendation to strip Duterte of his control over the local police.

    “The report is just his (Alston’s) opinion. But it remains to be seen whether or not these will stand judicial scrutiny, whether in our own courts in the country or in any international forum,” Pagdilao said.

    He said Alston spent only a short time in the country and it was impossible for him to thoroughly investigate and establish that a death squad operates in Davao City.

  • Wednesday, December 31, 1969

    Special Rapporteur’s report on the Philippines fact-finding mission released

  • Wednesday, December 31, 1969

    Portuguese translation of Special Rapporteur’s press statement on Brazil

    A Portuguese translation of the press statement made by Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, on his fact-finding mission to Brazil is now available.

    The Portuguese translation is courtesy of UNDP Brazil.