Press Release
February 11, 2007


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today blamed the unabated extra-judicial killings of leaders of progressive workers groups and leftist activists on the Arroyo governments policy of repression against political dissent and its dismal failure to prosecute soldiers and policemen involved in these heinous crimes.

Pimentel condemned the slaying of Dalmacio Gandinao, coordinator of the Bayan Muna for Misamis Oriental and chairman of the Misamis Oriental Farmers Association (MISOR) the 272nd activists killed since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed office in 2001. He was also the 114th member of Bayan Muna to be summarily killed.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should be held responsible for the extra-judicial killing of Dalmacio Gandinao. The record of political dissenters killed during her administration has surpassed that of Gen. Augusto Pinochet during the military dictatorship in Chile, he said.

Gandinao was shot dead by a group of seven gunmen who barged into his house in Salay town at 7 p.m. last Thursday (Feb. 8).

Pimentel said the Presidents repeated pledge to stop the extra-judicial killings and to unmask and punish their perpetrators now sound hollow in the face of the continuing wave of slayings of militants.

He said this also lends credence to the accusations that the extra-judicial killings were carried out by death squads let loose by the military as part of state policy to eliminate leftists activists believed to have links with the underground communist movement.

The minority leader lamented that while the Melo fact-finding Commission in its initial report, has tagged the military as having perpetrated most of the political killings and held that certain generals be held responsible for these crimes, Malacañang has prevented the Commission from releasing the investigation report, betraying the Commissions lack of independence.

The deplorable actuations of Malacañang tend to confirm suspicion that all these investigations of the extra-judicial killings is a sham. For contrary to their claim that they want the truth about these summary executions to come out, it has become apparent that they are trying to cover up the involvement of the real perpetrators of these killings, he said.

Pimentel, meanwhile, said the arrival of Philip Alston United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Summary or Arbitrary Executions in Manila this week and of observers/investigators from the European Union has given a ray of hope that the wish of the families of the victim and the public to have an impartial and no-nonsense investigation of the political killings will be fulfilled.

However, he said it is a sad commentary that due to the governments indecision and double-talk, the UN and other foreign organizations and countries have found it necessary to step into the investigation to establish the truth and render justice to the victims of the summary executions.

Pimentel said it is an indictment on the Arroyo government and the Melo Commission that witnesses and families of victims and leaders of militant groups have shown enthusiasm in appearing before the UN and EU representatives after boycotting the hearings of the Palace-created fact-finding body due to lack of trust.

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