Human Rights Now is a Japan-based NGO established by a group of
lawyers, researchers and activists aiming for the improvement of the human
rights situation especially in Asia. Since last year, we have expressed grave
concerns over a number of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances
in the Philippines. In addition to issuing statements on the occasion of the
ASEAN Summit and President Arroyo’s Japan visit, we conducted an investigation
in April, and we also held a lecture in May by Professor Philip Alston, the
United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary
We welcome the fact that the following progress have been made.
*Investigative report has been issued by the Melo Commission that revealed the
involvement of soldiers. *The Philippine government has accepted the visit of
Philip Alston, the Special Rapporteur. Furthermore, he issued a report that
acknowledges military involvement and then, he met with governmental officials.
* After receiving the report by the Melo Commission, President Arroyo ordered
the setting up of a special tribunal to try cases of extrajudicial killings and
disappearances, the reinforcement of the witness protection program, and the
conduct of joint investigation by the Department of Justice, Armed Force of the
Philippines and Commission of Human Rights . *The special investigation team
formed by the national police (Task Force Usig) announced that perpetrators in
about 80 cases have been prosecuted. *The Supreme Court held a Summit inviting
not only government parties but also NGO affiliates in order to seek resolution
of problems including extrajudicial killings. The Supreme Court also
established the redress system which can order victims’ protection, victims’
investigation, and disclosure of information. This system has actually helped
to release some victims, which gave some hope to other victims.
political killings and enforced disappearances still continue. According to the
Philippine human rights NGO, Karapatan, 68 victims of extrajudicial killings
and 26 enforced disappearances have been reported since January to October,
The Armed Force of the Philippines as an organization has never accepted
its responsibility in spite of the fact that the national police has prosecuted
military personnel who were pointed out in the report of Philip Alston, the
Special Rapporteur. The investigation by the national police has been only a
small portion of the cases that have been happening, and among the prosecuted
cases, those that have been submitted for decision were very few. Also,
prosecution of crimes has not been carried out properly. In fact, we
interviewed witnesses and relatives in 15 extrajudicial killing cases and 3
enforced disappearance cases, and none of those case has been solved.
Furthermore, no compensation nor official apology for victims of extrajudicial
killings and enforced disappearances has been made.
Since the Philippine
government has an obligation to protect human rights within its jurisdiction,
the government is obliged to prevent occurrence of the grave human rights
violation such as extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, and once
it happens, to investigate the human rights violation, identify responsible
persons, and prosecute them. As governmental organs are involved in the human
rights violations, the Philippine government should also compensate victims and
give official apology.
Human Rights Now, on the occasion of Human Rights Day
on December 10th, demands effective measures to prevent extrajudicial killings
and enforced disappearances; investigations against elements from the
military and police hierarchy who failed to supervise perpetrators, or worse,
participated in the actual commission of human rights violations; and apologies
and compensation for the victims from the Philippine government.
HRN again calls on the Japanese government, who enjoys friendly relations with
the Philippine government being its biggest donor of development aid, to
continue conversations with the Philippine government on human rights issues,
monitor the process of the restoration of human rights such as investigation,
prosecution, apologies and compensation in order to ensure accountability and
Finally, we demand that any new yen loan should
not be carried out until the improvement of human rights situation and
accountability mechanism are clearly recognized.