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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Philippine Armed Forces blames for many murders

I am a little surprised at this report. The president Gloria Arroyo is no doubt not at all pleased with it. There have been peace talks with the NPA from time to time but the fact that the US has the NPA on its terror list has not helped negotiations. The New People's Army as the Maoists in Nepal have continued armed struggle long after the demise of Maoism and rise of market capitalism in China-- the so-called socialism with Chinese characteristics aka state steered capitalism with massive corruption but with much growth in production.
I lived in the Philippines with my wife for over a year. She owns property in Gabawan an area frequented by the NPA. The NPA is not good for property values!
They collect revolutionary taxes from those who can pay. There are several parties in the legislature that are regarded as fronts for the NPA. The leader of the Philippine COmmunist Party is in exile in the Netherlands.
The NPA is mostly in rural areas. In some areas the NPA more or less co-exists with the military but in others the commanders are staunch anti-communists who not only engage with the NPA but engage in extra-judicial murder of activists in general.
Journalists are often the target of these murders. After Iraq the Philippines is the most dangerous country in the world for journalists. In spite of this the Philippine press is exceedingly active and uncowed. The press is much more varied and even more combative than in Canada or the US.


Army blamed for hundreds of murders
Photo: AP
AdvertisementCarmel Crimmins in Manila
January 31, 2007

PHILIPPINE soldiers have murdered hundreds of left-wing activists since 2001 and their commanding officers should be held responsible, the head of a government inquiry has said.

Jose Melo, a retired Supreme Court justice, said yesterday that "elements in the military" were behind the fatal shooting of hundreds of left-wing activists, community workers and farmers.

"It's a small group in the military who are doing these things with the tolerance of some commanders, but it is not the policy of the entire armed forces of the Philippines," Mr Melo said.

The President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, appointed Mr Melo to lead an inquiry into the murders last year after rights groups, including Amnesty International, said the shootings could be linked to some members of the security forces.

Mr Melo recommended that commanding officers face military tribunals for extrajudicial killings in their areas. "They should have known what was happening and they just kept silent," he said.

Dr Arroyo's spokesman said the Government would ensure justice was done if the report had implicated anyone.

The military's chief-of-staff, Lieutenant-General Hermogenes Esperon, told the Melo Commission in September that there was no official policy to kill "suspected enemies of the state".

The military and government has previously blamed communist rebels for the recent surge in killings, saying the New People's Army was purging its ranks, as it had done in the 1980s.

The shootings - often carried out in daylight by masked gunmen on motorbikes - have continued into 2007. Many of the victims were members of organisations the military views as fronts for the group.

The Philippines, also fighting Muslim insurgencies, has been battling the New People's Army since 1969 in a conflict that has killed more than 40,000 people. Dr Arroyo declared an "all out war" on the communist insurgents last year.

Local human rights group Karapatan has said more than 700 leftist activists, farmers, community organisers and journalists have been killed since Dr Arroyo came to power in 2001.

Asked how many of the murders were carried out by soldiers, Mr Melo said: "Most of them".

He told a local newspaper that some of the killings were attributed to politicians and some to the security guards of landlords.

Reuters

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