MANILA, Philippines - The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) yesterday called on President Aquino to act on the recommendations of a human rights lawyer who made a legal audit on extrajudicial killings in the Philippines from 2001-2010.
The study commissioned by the Asia Foundation was released last October.
Bayan’s call came as Mr. Aquino is set to address the Association on Southeast Asian Nations summit this week.
In his report, lawyer Al Parreño concluded that of the more than 305 cases of extrajudicial killings, only 1.05 percent resulted in conviction of the perpetrators. His report also cited that activists were the primary targets and that state forces were the main suspects in the killings.
Parreño has recommended the formation of a special team of prosecutors that will focus solely on cases of extrajudicial killings, and the formation of a “truth commission” to investigate if there was indeed a “state policy” on extrajudicial killings during the previous administration.
The report cited that the magnitude, frequency and nationwide scope of the killings were indicators of a possible state-sanctioned policy.
“The Parreño report provides an excellent insight into the flaws of the Philippine legal system and the inability of the Philippine government to achieve justice for victims of extrajudicial killings. The Aquino government can do well to study and implement the recommendations contained therein,” said Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr.
Reyes said the conviction rate for cases of extrajudicial killings is dismal and the formation of a dedicated team of prosecutors who will go after perpetrators is a positive step in achieving justice for victims.
“The President, through the Department of Justice, can swiftly undertake this measure,” he added.
He said an investigation into the previous government’s policy on extrajudicial killings is absolutely necessary if justice is to be achieved.
“The only way to stop the repeat of the widespread killings under the Arroyo government is for the Aquino government to investigate the previous regime’s policies and abandon these policies forever,” Reyes said.
“Many international observers have already affirmed what Philippine rights groups have been saying. There was a state policy that sanctioned these killings. This policy is contained in the counter-insurgency program of the Arroyo government,” he added.
Bayan had earlier criticized the Aquino government for not including human rights within the scope of the Philippine Truth Commission. The commission will confine its probe to cases of corruption and election fraud.
Rhodina Villanueva, Philippine Star