Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Palace slams Canadian rights team

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
Posted date: November 22, 2006

MALACAÑANG on Wednesday denounced a team of Canadians who are in the country to look into political killings as “propaganda tools of the revolutionary left."

"These pseudo investigations on so-called extrajudicial killings are not sanctioned by the Canadian government with whom we maintain strong and time-honored ties," Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said in a statement.

Bunye said the "self-proclaimed" mission "appear to be mere propaganda tools of the revolutionary left rather than impartial instruments of truth and justice."

"We deplore the arrogance of certain self-serving groups to turn this issue into a diplomatic matter," he said, reacting to the team’s announcement that they would ask their government to redirect $22 million in aid from the "militarist" Arroyo administration to communities.

The Canadian activists arrived in the Philippines last week to investigate what it described as the "alarming deterioration of human rights" in the country.

The nine-member fact-finding team is composed of lawyers, trade unionists, community leaders and human rights advocates.

The human rights organization Karapatan has documented 764 deaths of activists since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed office in 2001.

Bunye reiterated that the government is determined to solve the killings and that the President has been in touch with the diplomatic community on this issue.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, you might be interested in these articles too, published on the front page of Sun Star Baguio Nov. 21 and Nov. 23 respectively.

Canadian team calls for 9 punks' freedom

Rimaliza Opiña
Staff Reporter

A Canadian fact-finding team has joined in the clamor for the release of nine remaining punks who are still detained pending the release of a resolution from the Baguio City Prosecutors Office.

"The allegations are laughable," Mike Leitold of the Law Union, a fact-finding group formed to research on the status of human rights violations in the Philippines, said in a press conference yesterday.

"They were just at the wrong place and the wrong the time," Leitold said, echoing the claims of groups supportive of the punks.

Leitold said the remaining punks should now be released because despite months of detention, they have not yet undergone trial, which he pointed out, is a violation of their human rights.

The CPO is currently investigating the case of the nine punks after Judge Agapito Laoagan granted the motion for re-investigation filed by the Free Legal Assistance Group-Baguio.

Earlier, a group of punks also asked for the group's release by camping for five days at the Justice Hall grounds.

The punks, including the recently-released two minors, have been charged with rebellion for allegedly burning the detachments of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit in Mankayan, Benguet, February this year.

The remaining punks were identified as Rundren Lao from Davao City; Aldoz Christian Muñoza from Pasig City; Darwin Alazar from Urdaneta City; Arvie Nuñez from Lucena City; Neil Russel Balajadia from Pasig City; Jethro Villegas from Davao City; Anderson Alonzo also from Davao City; Ronron Pandino from Laguna; and Jefferson dela Cruz from Pasig City.

Canada group alarmed by rights abuses in RP

Rimaliza Opiña
Staff Reporter

A non-government organization based in Canada has raised alarm over the reported human rights abuses in the country.

This as Malacañang expressed outrage over the reported move of the Philippine-Canadian Task Force for Human Rights to seek a cut in Canadian annual aid to the Philippines by Cdn$22 million because of the military's harrassment of their fact-finding mission.

The Law Union, a fact-finding team on human rights abuses based in Ontario, Canada, intends to publish on the occasion of the commemoration of the International Human Rights Day on December 10 its report regarding political killings in the Philippines, highlighting their research in Abra.

The military topped the list of those who reportedly commit human rights violations.

Mike Leitold, group team leader, said circumstantial evidence point to member of the Armed Forces as those responsible for the deaths of some members of organizations critical of the government.

Also, villagers believed to be sympathizers of communist groups have not been spared because they too have been harrassed, Leitold said. He stressed that in any armed conflict, civilians must be spared by either the military or the insurgents.

Leitold also confirmed the claims of local human rights groups that there is a pattern of killing of individuals identified with leftist organizations.

"There is a chilling pattern of assassination that needs to be investigated," Leitold said, citing the killing of one John Maximo in Abra last April where, after initial investigation on the matter, no progress on the case has been reported seven months after the incident.

Meanwhile, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said "we deplore the arrogance of certain self-serving groups to turn this issue into a diplomatic matter."

Bunye, who is also Presidential spokesman, said the "pseudo-investigations" on the alleged extrajudicial killings are not sanctioned by the Canadian government, "with whom we maintain strong nd time-honored ties."

"Such self-proclaimed human rights missions appear to be mere propaganda tools of the revolutionary left rather than impartial instruments of truth and justice," he said.

He said the government remains strongly committed to addressing the killings and is in touch with the diplomatic community about developments in the issue. He said the government intends to resolve the killings.

Filipino-Canadian lawyer and task force coordinator Luningning Alcuitas claimed the military has tried to prevent her group from talking to residents of areas where there were reported human rights violations.

She said her group would submit to Canadian ambassador Peter Sutherland their recommendaitons and will present evidence of human rights violations in Abra, Baguio, Quezon, and Nueva Ecija.

She said it would be better if Canadian aid would be redirected to grassroots organizations for their community development programs.

-with reports from sunnex

1:33 AM  

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