GMA Creates Another Task Force on Political Violence
Byline: DAVID CAGAHASTIAN
President Arroyo renewed the government's commitment to address the issue of political killings and human rights violations with the creation of another task force against political violence, amid a United Nations report linking the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to dozens of political killings under the Arroyo administration.
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the creation of the new task force is part of the government's efforts to stop political killings.
But he downplayed a report by UN special rapporteur on human rights Philip Alston linking the military to scores of political killings since 2001.
Ermita said the contents of Alston's final report to the UN had already been published after his fact-finding mission to the Philippines earlier this month, and that President Arroyo had already issued directives to stop political killings.
"If you recall, when Mr. Alston was here and he made a press conference before leaving, the things that we read already came out. At that moment, there were already orders issued by the President to authorities to do anything to a stop to all these unexplained killings," Ermita said.
Alston released his final report on the human rights situation in the Philippines and said the military's claim that the political killings were done by communist rebels purging their ranks was "unconvincing."
Ermita asserted that the government had not been remiss in its campaign against political killings, citing the government's compliance with recommendations of the Melo Commission and other international agencies that looked into alleged human rights violations in the Philippines.
The recommendations included the establishment of special courts and special prosecutors to exclusively handle cases of political killings, and the strengthening of the witness protection program to encourage more witnesses to come out and testify against suspects in human rights violations. …