Press Release
September 3, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel Jr. (PDP-Laban) today told the Department of Justice (DOJ) to stop sleeping on its job by acting on a long list of cases of political killings, abductions, disappearances, tortures and other forms of human rights violations that were already investigated and recommended for prosecution by the Commission on Human Rights.

Pimentel cited a report of the CHR, an independent constitutional body, that it had submitted a total of 423 cases of human rights violations to government prosecutors or fiscals in various regions from January, 2005 to June, 2006 alone for prosecution.

But it seems the DOJ and its prosecutors are merely sitting on these cases. They are duty-bound to act expeditiously on these cases and to file the appropriate criminal charges against the perpetrators before the courts, he said.

Pimentel urged Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez to inform the public about the status of these cases if only to erase any suspicion about attempts to whitewash the involvement of military officers or powerful individuals who are tagged as suspects.

If only the pending cases of political killings and other human rights violations are acted upon and resolved with dispatch by the DOJ government prosecutors, Pimentel said that there would be no need for Malacañang to form the commission that would look into extra-judicial killings of political activists and journalists.

And the funds that would be allocated to the fact-finding Commission, chaired by retired Supreme Court Justice Jose Melo, would have been used instead to augment the budget of the CHR specially for protecting witnesses.

As reported by CHR commissioner/officer-in-charge Quintin Badelles-Cueto III, the 423 cases of political killings and other human rights violations that the commission has forwarded to government prosecutors were as follows:

National Capital Region, 67 cases; Cordillera Autonomous Region, 1; Ilocos Region, 20; Cagayan Valley, 23; Central Luzon, 6; Southern Tagalog, 5; Bicol Region, 45; Western Visayas, 9; Central Visayas, 7; Eastern Visayas, 9; Western Mindanao, 24; Northern Mindanao, 138; Southern Mindanao, 46; and Central Mindanao, 23.

Pimentel also voiced apprehension that the impartiality and independence of the Melo Commission may have been compromised when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo publicly chastised the political opposition for blaming the military and the police for most of the extra-judicial killings of leftist activists and journalists.

It is the President who is desperately propagating the illusion that all the extra-judicial killings are done by people other than the death squads that she appears to be mindlessly sanctioning, he said.

It is her reckless absolution of any official involvement in the killings that directly undermines the commission.

In a speech before at the conferment of masters of security administration to the new graduates of the National Defense College last week, the President said: Some of them (the opposition) are so desperate that they try to abruptly link the military, which is under my command, to the extra-judicial killings that have been happening recently.

Pimentel said the Presidents statement was obviously intended to soothe ruffled feelings among the military in the light of the Justice Melos pledge that there will be no sacred cows in the Commissions efforts to pinpoint the culprits behind the extra-judicial killings.

In any event, Gloria appears bent on pleasing the government death squads and the officials backing them up in order to court favor with them. Betraying an utter lack of proportion, her remarks smack of extreme political pragmatism. In fact, it sounds like it is a simple case of you scratch my back, I scratch yours. In the meantime, Gloria stays on in power and the death squads can go on their merry way to exterminate even innocent civilians at their pleasure, the senator from Mindanao said.

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