Respect for Human Rights Important for All -- Kenney

Article excerpt

Byline: Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY -- The care for human rights is important for everyone and the best that governments could do is to work together towards instilling in their people the value of respect for human rights, United States Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney said here Tuesday.

Kenney said that the Philippine government has very good plans in dealing with the highly publicized extrajudicial killings that have been going on for the past several decades. And the Americans are trying to help the government realize its good plans to put an end to the brewing issue on the unsettled extrajudicial killings that have hounded the Arroyo administration for the past several years, she said.

Among the assistance that will be provided by the US government to the Philippines is the sufficient training of law enforcers and prosecutors in dealing with the unexplained killings which still remain an advocacy of the civil society.

The US government will also be providing support to non-government organization (NGO) work on strengthening human rights advocacy and boosting the capabilities of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Kenney told reporters.

"People always worry about unexplained killings. Murder is never a good thing anywhere, thus, it needs to be thoroughly investigated," she added.

According to Kenney, the media must fairly report on the developments of extrajudicial killings so that the people will be aware on the importance of respect for human rights, a sensitive issue that is true to almost all governments in the global village.

Based on the records of militant groups, there are at least 800 victims of alleged extrajudicial killings and unforced disappearances of left-leaning individuals during the incumbency of President Arroyo.

The relatives of the victims of unexplained killings are still longing for justice for the death or disappearance of their kin. However, the US ambassador emphasized that the US, being a friend to the Philippines, is doing all possible efforts to provide the needed assistance that could put an end to the sensitive issue.

She said the US Congress cares for the respect of human rights and so does the Philippines. The important thing is for both governments to work together and establish the needed baseline to instill awareness in both Americans and Filipinos the importance of respecting human rights and right to life for individuals.

Meanwhile, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) yesterday welcomed the move of the United States Senate to impose human rights conditions before giving additional military aid to the Philippines.

"This is a significant step in attaining justice for the kith and kin of victims of extrajudicial killings, unforced disappearances and other human rights violations perpetrated by state security forces," Sharon Rose Duremdes, NCCP general secretary said.

The NCCP, however, believes the move was due to the efforts of the Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights in the Philippines, the delegation of church leaders, human rights defenders and civil libertarians who presented the human rights situation in the country before churches and government bodies in the US, Canada, and Switzerland last March, 2007. (with a report by Leslie Ann G. Aquino)

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Malacanang notes rise in US military assistance to $ 30 M

David Cagahastian

Malacanang yesterday conceded that a part of United States military assistance has been tied to the government's compliance with human rights, but noted the rise in US military assistance from $ 11 million to $ 30 million represents the trust of the US in the government's human rights record.

Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said there is nothing new in the conditions set by the US Senate on the disbursement of an additional $ 2 million in military assistance. …