Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Nene" Q. Pimentel Jr. (PDP-Laban) yesterday urged the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to desist from involving itself in the enforcement of law and order and to leave this function in the hands of the Philippine National Police (PNP), particularly in highly urbanized areas like Metro Manila.
Pimentel said this should be adopted as a government policy to prevent the unwarranted and wanton violations of human rights as shown in the abduction, detention, and alleged torture of five supporters of former President Joseph Estrada.
He said the military may be allowed to undertake law enforcement function only in far-flung areas where there is little or no police presence, but this should be on a temporary basis only and after due training to respect the human rights and civil liberties of the people.
"The police are trained on the policies and rules on law enforcement. But the soldiers have an entirely different training and orientation from the police," Pimentel said.
Pimentel called on Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz Jr. to seriously consider his suggestion that insofar as enforcement of law and order is concerned, the military should defer to the police.
He said the AFP and PNP should sit down and set a clear demarcation line between the military and police in combating internal enemies.
Malacanang proud of its human rights record, says Bunye
By DAVID CAGAHASTIAN
Malacanang yesterday invited critics of the government's human rights record to observe how democracy is exercised in the country, as the military faces fresh allegations of illegal arrests, use of torture, and the crackdown on opposition groups.
Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said local and international critics of the government's human rights record are welcome to observe the situation in the Philippines.
"We have nothing to hide about and we are proud of our human rights record," Bunye said in a statement, which also cited government's efforts to uphold human rights and democracy in the country.
"There is a climate of confidence and vibrancy, not fear, in the streets. Filipinos seek the best of life in work and in the freedom to speak, write and travel, even if admittedly, we have to cope with pockets of poverty and deprivation. We have a tourist trade that has burgeoned like never before because visitors to the Philippines savor the atmosphere of freedom," Bunye said.
Bunye's assurance of the government's high regard for human rights was made on the heels of fresh allegations of a crackdown by the military on activist groups critical of President Arroyo and the recent report by Amnesty International, a global human rights watchdog, that "a climate of impunity" exists in the country with the increasing number of unsolved killings of militant leaders and journalists. …