Press Release
August 21, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said the creation of a five-man panel to investigate the killings of political activists and journalists may turn out to be a mere coverup or gimmick unless President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo asserts her control over military generals suspected of having a hand in these gruesome crimes.

Pimentel bewailed that, Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, chief of the Armys 7th Infantry Division, has stubbornly defied a summons of the Court of Appeals to appear before it to give his side on the abduction and disappearance of University of the Philippines (Diliman) students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan and their companion Manuel Merino, a farmer.

The commission created by President Arroyo can investigate the extra-judicial killings but it has no power to stop them. That power belongs to the President. But it seems she cant control some of the generals of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. They appear to control her, he said.

Empeno, 23, Cadapan, 29, and Merino, a member of the Alyansang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, were snatched away from their rented house in Hagonoy, Bulacan at 2 a.m. on June 26. Palparan and other officers of the AFP were called by the Court of Appeals to answer a habeas corpus petition filed by their parents.

Pimentel said the buck must stop at Mrs. Arroyos door because she is the president and commander-in-chief of the AFP and PNP. Unless the President orders the military and police to crack down on those responsible for these extra-judicial killings, Pimentel said he is afraid that these criminal activities may continue.

Extra-judicial killings must be stopped. If the President cant order the AFP and PNP to stop them, she is useless as commander-in-chief. It is her prime duty to protect lives.

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