Press Release
September 21, 2007


Sen. Loren Legarda has filed a resolution in the Senate seeking an investigation into extrajudicial killings and purposing that superiors of military personnel involved in such killings should be held into account.

Loren made the disclosure as she appealed to lawyers to take up the cudgels for the poor and for victims of extrajudicial killings "whose only fault in the eyes of oppressors is representing and protecting civil liberties and the fundamental rights of the marginalized."

In a message to the National Union People's Lawyers Founding Congress, Loren appealed to the "peoples' lawyers" to support her move to investigate the "unlawful killings" and hold into account all those responsible.

Loren said that the aim of her resolution is for Congress to "come up with appropriate legislation that will compel the government to ensure the elimination of all forms of extrajudicial killings and bring to justice persons responsible for such crimes."

She explained, "We hope to provide greater deterrence to such killings by introducing remedial measures to impose stiffer penalties not only to actual perpetrators but also to the persons responsible over such perpetrators. This is in the light of evidence implicating military personnel in a number of unlawful killings."

She added, "the proposed legislation that we hope will result from the Senate investigation shall require police and military forces and other government officials to maintain strict chain-of-command responsibility with respect t extrajudicial killings and other offenses committed by personnel under their command, control or authority as recommended by the Melo Commission."

"Such legislation will deal specifically with extralegal, arbitrary and summary executions and forces disappearances, and shall provide appropriate penalties which take into account the gravity of the offense," Loren declared.

"The proposed legislation shall also penalize a superior government official, military or otherwise, who encourages, incites, tolerates or ignores any extrajudicial killing committed by a subordinate," said Loren.

"We call on your support for this Senate resolution as we continue to champion the cause of human rights advocates in the Senate," Loren told the lawyers.

"Human rights are the most fundamental rights. It is the only entitlement of the poor and the marginalized and we must never allow anyone to take away from them. Together, let us work together, fearlessly, to bring an end to the perpetration of human rights violations and usher in an era of respect for life, freedom and dignity," she emphasized.

Loren noted that out of close to 50,000 registered lawyers in the country, only few respond to the call of being a "people's lawyer." But even as they remain few number, they are also "under threat of extinction," since many of them have themselves fallen to assassins.

"People's lawyers are the only salvation of the poor and powerless, which is why your tribe must increase," Loren told the lawyers. She appealed to the lawyers to "considered this less traveled path" of helping the poor and the oppressed, for "you have never really lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you."

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