The Philippine Armed Forces typically blame the Maoist (NPA) for many of the killings. There were some purges in the past but many of the killings are linked to the AFP or police and to particular commanders as well. The rebels have a number of legal fronts and their members are often targets as well as other social activists.
RP considers US rights report as ‘constructive criticism’
BY JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR
MALACAÑANG yesterday said it considers as "constructive criticism" the 2006 United States Country Report on Human Rights Practices which cited the Philippines for the "climate of impunity" in the murder of journalists, churchmen and political activists.
Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said the Philippines continues to uphold democracy and human rights.
The report prepared by the State department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor said many of the killings "went unsolved and unpunished, contributing to a climate of impunity, despite intensified government efforts during the year (2006) to investigate and prosecute these cases."
The report also said "members of the security services committed acts of physical and psychological abuse on suspects and detainees, and there were instances of torture."
It also said the "climate of impunity" in the Philippines was bred in part by "widely held and accurate public perception" that the 115,000-man PNP was corrupt.
It noted policemen were regularly accused of torture, of soliciting bribes, and of other illegal acts, although there are efforts to reform the institution to "counter a widespread impression of official impunity."
"The Philippine government is carrying the agenda of President Arroyo on unexplained killings forward by setting up special courts, fielding special prosecutors, protecting witnesses, and instituting strict internal controls within the military and police," Bunye said.
He added that the government has also intensified and strengthened its "legal, counterpropaganda and operational measures" against members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army "to end the trail of mass murder and mayhem the revolutionary left has inflicted upon our people."
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita earlier said the report was merely an attempt to call the attention of the Philippines to the human rights issue.
The defense department disputed the report.
Defense Undersecretary Ernesto Caroliona said the killings are not happening with impunity.
Carolina said some soldiers have been involved in extra-judicial killings in the 1980s "but they (soldiers) did it out of the chain of command. They did it on their own."
"We are not saying it’s zero but it is not on a scale that is being painted by the Left. It (extra judicial killings) is not with impunity and it is not a policy, a national policy and defense police," he said.
Carolina noted the defense and military establishments have been stressing, through verbal and written communications, to the officers and men, to abide by the provisions of the human rights and international humanitarian law.