US prods PNoy: End extrajudicial killings

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In this file photo,  a human rights official views images of the alleged torture of jail inmates by Laguna policemen last year.

In this file photo, a human rights official views images of the alleged torture of jail inmates by Laguna policemen last year.

The convictions of a few rights violators in recent years have sparked hope that the Philippines’ human rights record may be improving, but the government is facing the challenge of achieving more radical progress to secure increased military support from its long-term ally, the United States.

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The US Congress continues to impose a limit on military aid to the Philippines due to the country’s failure to stop extrajudicial killings and send violators to jail.

In its 2013 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, the US State Department said extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances undertaken by security forces are the most significant human rights problems in the Philippines.

Impunity persists because the government lacks “sufficient mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption in the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP),” the report said.

While cases of human rights violations perpetrated by government troops have been investigated, very few ended in convictions because majority of these cases were dismissed, it said.

Limited prosecutions

“The government continued to investigate and prosecute only a limited number of reported human rights abuses, and concerns about impunity persisted,” it added.

“From January to October, the Office of the Ombudsman, an independent agency responsible for investigating and prosecuting charges of public abuse and impropriety, received 306 cases involving military and law enforcement officers accused of committing human rights abuses.

The cases included killings, injuries, unlawful arrest, and torture. Most were filed against low-ranking police and military officials.

As of October, 302 cases were dismissed due to insufficiency of evidence, and eight were under investigation.

No convictions against high-ranking police or military officials were recorded,” the report, released on Saturday, said.

The department listed other factors that allowed human rights violations to continue, such as a dysfunctional criminal justice system notable for poor cooperation between police and investigators, few prosecutions, lengthy procedural delays and widespread official corruption and abuse of power.

As of July last year, the PNP Directorate for Personnel and Records Management reported 28 administrative cases filed against 56 police personnel for human rights violation.

Criminal proceedings were initiated against 138 police personnel accused in 102 cases, and 101 were referred to the Prosecutors’ Office while one case was filed in court, the report said. Officials dismissed at least 15 police personnel for various administrative and criminal offenses as of August.

Last month, 10 policemen in Binan, Laguna province were suspended after their “roulette torture” system was uncovered. Victims said that police officers spun a “roulette” wheel to pick what torture will be meted out. If the arrow points to “Manny Pacman”, a policeman would punch an inmate for 20 seconds.

“It’s clear to me that extrajudicial killings remain foremost among the human rights challenges in the Philippines,” US Ambassador to Manila Philip Goldberg said.

He added that he was “encouraged by the Philippines’ recent extrajudicial killings convictions.”

There were only three such convictions last year, according to the report, reflecting the need for Aquino’s administration to step up efforts to bring perpetrators of killings and other abuses to justice.

The State Department also expressed concern over overcrowded and inadequate prison conditions; killings and harassment of journalists; internally displaced persons (IDPs); violence against women; abuse and sexual exploitation of children; and trafficking in persons.

Limited access to facilities for persons with disabilities; lack of full integration of indigenous people; absence of law and policy to protect persons from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; suspected vigilante killings; child labor; and ineffective enforcement of worker rights were also a concern.

The State Department is mandated by the US Congress each year to provide a detailed report on the status of human rights in more than 100 countries to help the US government assess its policy and foreign assistance.

Separatist insurgencies

The report also noted that long-running Muslim separatist and communist insurgencies continued to result in the displacement of civilians and the killing of soldiers and police in armed clashes.

Terrorist organizations such as the Abu Sayyaf Group, Jemaah Islamiyah, and the New People’s Army, as well as elements associated with the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front, including the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters continue to kill security forces, local government officials, and other civilians, according to the report. The Moro National Islamic Liberation Front (MNLF) also conducted military operations against government security forces and civilians.
PNA, AFP

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7 Comments

  1. I am British and have lived in the Philippines for 18 months now. I enjoy it here and will be staying.

    One the blights or demons in Philippines culture is these extrajudicial killings which is part of the general contract killing culture here.

    If the military and or army are involved then this must be thoroughly investigated and dealt with. I know this is possibly a big ask here at the moment, but this has to be addressed.

    From what I have learnt to date, there is no one shading organization operating here but rather ad hoc decisions are made. Pretty always this is about money, the major exception being in the South with regard to the ongoing problems there. But else where, I am pretty sure it is money. A business man/woman, politician high ranking military or police office has their money making activities compromised then the problem is “removed”.

    The going rate for a contract was 10000 pesos the last time I heard? Be it a domestic dispute, or Janet Lim Napoles having to wear protecting clothing during the Pork Barrel hearings along with the whistle blowers, again it is money.

    The Guardian Newspaper in the UK along with other papers often flags up the number of journalists killed in the Philippines.

    From memory some 500 Punjabi’s were killed in 2012, again contract killings, due I expect to problems with loans. This caused a huge storm in the state of Punjab in India. I would not be surprised if this killing is continuing.

    Every week on GMA TV or ABS CBN I see news reports showing a car with its rear window blown away and gun cartridges on the ground. The victim was in the rear seat, and the killer/s got away on a motor bike.

    The US is restricting military aid which this country really needs given the problems with the East and South China seas etc, World media report the very high killing of journalists here and India and the state of Punjab are incensed by this.

    The economy here is doing well, but world opinion and world investments are being effected as this report shows.

    Extrajudicial killings and the related contract killings must be addressed.

  2. artemio vicente on

    huwag muna natin husgahan si P-noy meron pang enough time para gawin yan nataon lang na dumating ang sunodsunod na trahedya sa bansa.magagawa niya lahat yan bago matapos ang termino.

  3. I don’t think he’ll be able to or would want to put an end to the extrajudicial killing… as the perpetrators are probably most likely his allies/friends. Maybe if he can put the blame on the oppositions or his critics, then he might do it. Remember, only the oppositions are being investigated in the PDAF/Pork Barrel scam and none of his friends/allies are being investigated, even if they should be, as they were named in the list of supposed perpetuators.

  4. don’t tell Pnoy to step up, he won’t admit to the glaring shortcomings. he’ll say, “buhay ka pa nman di ba?”

  5. virginia guevara on

    After all these time wala pa ring natutuhan ang mga kinaukulan para sa kabutihan ng madla at ikauunlad ng ating bansa! You want privacy, the hell you can have it, as long as you dont abuse anyone and turn a blind eye to other abusers!

  6. After the ongoing corruption scanndals, disaster of Yolanda, ineptitude of gov’t, here comes another no-confidence vote by The US vs the absent Abnoy. Tapos na ang maliligayang araw mo.

  7. Can PNoy end extra-judicial killings in PH? Or get Maguindanao Massacre trial concluded and perpetrators of this most horrible crime against humanity sent behind bars? Or get Jovito “The Butcher” Palaparan captured?

    Dream on. Maybe he can, when the crow turns white.