Statement of Secretary Ignacio R. Bunye Re: Killings
Manila (26 April) -- We thank Congresswoman (Ellen) Tauscher for her concern and we will communicate to her the fact that this Administration deplores the killings, be they from left or right, against journalists or against activists, and is committed to breaking this cycle of violence that has long plagued the Philippine political environment once and for all.
Under the direction of President Arroyo, the Melo Commission was established as an independent commission to investigate these killings and to submit policy recommendations, which the Government has followed.
These recommendations included the creation of special courts, implementation of stronger witness protection measures, and allocation of more resources for prosecutors and investigations of left and right to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice.
The President has also ordered the Department of Justice and the Department of National Defense to coordinate with the Commission on Human Rights to create a Joint Fact-Finding body to delve deeper into allegations, and to file charges against and prosecute the culpable parties, if they do indeed exist.
According to the Presidential Human Rights Committee, at least 60 cases of unlawful killings have been brought to court or are with prosecuting authorities as of April this year. Four cases have resulted in convictions of the accused.
This Government is dedicated to the protection of human rights and will continue to take the necessary measures to address this issue. (OPS) [top]