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PIA Press Release
2007/12/15

CHR agrees on 'killings' decline

by Rey Anthony Chiu

Tagbilaran City (15 December) -- There is a noted dramatic decrease of political killings in the country in the past months.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Regional office confirms this during the weekly Kapihan sa PIA, and by the decline, regional authorities led by Atty. Alejandro Alonzo believes it is because people are more aware of their rights.

But human rights activists Karapatan has another version of the cause.

"It is because we are pressuring the government to end the killings, which caused the decline," Karapatan said.

Despite the agreement on upon whose credit goes the decline, activists still allege that there have been more than 800 extra-judicial killings in the country.

On the other hand, arguing that some killings are not perpetrated by state agents and some are in fact committed by communist groups, they want another word for it: extra-legal killings.

While extra judicial killings refer to political killings of journalists and political activists perpetrated by state agents, extra-legal killings, according to human rights advocate and lawyer Alejandro Alonzo Jr., would be the cases of killings perpetrated by the non-state agents.

And by non-state agents, he means the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army/ National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF) of other criminal elements in the course of common crimes.

The controversy stirred over the terminologies used when Philip Alston, a United Nation's special reporter on extra-judicial killings posted his recommendations that the government do something about them.

Alston's reports noted an alarming spate of killings in the country, a fact that was also corroborated by the government-formed Melo Commission.

Alonzo, who is also the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Region 7 regional Director Alejandro Alonso Jr., stressed that the term extra-judicial killings is used by the international law to refer to killings of journalists and political activists and perpetrated by the agents of the state.

Meanwhile for the government, he said Justice Adolf Azcuna prefers to use the word extra-legal killings, as killing perpetrated by the other side.

"In our country, some of the cases of killings were done by the other side (CPP/NPA/NDF), and that is why extra judicial killings may not be appropriate", he said.

Vigilante killings, or ones done by criminal offenders may not be extra-judicial killings then.

"While Alston however admitted not all killings were not done by state actors, the state has an international human rights responsibility and using the doctrine of command responsibility, the state could be held accountable," the CHR regional director and lawyer said.

Elucidating further on the international human rights standards, Alonzo pressed that technically, only agents of the state can be the ones considered as state violators, because it is them that has the obligation.

"The CPP/NPA has no obligation, however, in conferences, Jose Maria Sison and other leaders of the NDF conceded, on the point that the ones done by their members are human rights abuses".

Human rights violations of the state agents or abuses by the communists, Atty. Alonzo however hinted, they're one and the same thing. (PIA) [top]

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