Press Release
July 23, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today challenged the military and police to be faithful to their constitutional duty as agents of the law by acting as protectors, and not violators of human rights.

Pimentel bewailed the increasing involvement of members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police in incidents of abduction, illegal detention, torture and extra-judicial killing of political activists or suspected subversives that have made the men-in-uniform the objects of public contempt and distrust.

Addressing the Human Rights and Peace Summit at the Saint Scholastica College in Manila, Pimentel said under no circumstances should such atrocities and abuses of human rights be tolerated unless the people are willing to embrace dictatorial rule or martial law.

We may not agree with what they say, we may not agree with their advocacies but it does not mean that just because I have a gun, I will shoot you because you dont deserve to live. That is not right because the people who follow that kind of mentality are assuming the role of God already, he said.

The minority leader made a special appeal to Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, commanding general of the Armys Northern Luzon Command, whose names has prominently figured in a string of complaints of extra-judicial slaying of leftist militants.

Suspecting that the affair was infiltrated by government spies, Pimentel said: You tell Gen. Palparan that it is not his function to exterminate people extra-judicially just because he does not like what he hears from them.

It is his function to enforce the law according to the Constitution, which means that if these people are violating the law, then they should be arrested and then put to jail in accordance with law.

Pimentel scored the dangerous notion that certain hawkish elements in the military espouse that justifies the killing of political dissenters or suspected enemies of the state in the mistaken belief that this will hasten the elimination of threats to national security.

Palparan, along with Maj. Gen. Romeo Tolentino, newly-installed chief of the Philippine Army, has been ordered by the Supreme Court to bring to the Court of Appeals two University of the Philippines students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno and Manuel Merino who were snatched from their rented house by still unidentified men in Hagonoy, Bulacan last June 28.

Pimentel said the spate of slayings of leftist militants and journalists has created a climate of fear among the citizenry and worsened the Philippine image as an unsafe and violence-prone country.

Only last July 18, radio commentator Armando Pace of Digos City in Davao del Sur was gunned down by motorcycle-riding hit men, making him the 48th journalist to be killed in the country since the start of the Arroyo presidency in 2001 and the 8th from his profession to lose his life this year.

The lone senator from Mindanao assailed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for her governments lackluster response in solving and preventing extra-judicial killings, saying she is the one responsible for the terrible human rights situation in the country today.

Pimentel warned that this horrible situation is bound to worsen unless the freedom-loving Filipino people will close ranks and voice their collective condemnation of the perpetrators of human rights violations.

It can no longer do for senators, congressmen, bishops, priests, human rights workers to just speak from the cocoon of their respective workplaces. We have to go out and try to meet with the people so that they will know that it is now time for the Filipino to stand up and denounce the continued, unwarranted killings of our fellow citizens, he said.

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