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Philippine News Digest 97

January 22, 2006 · 

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Contents:
=EU assails unabated killing of activists
=Another Bicol militant killed
=Marines’ return sparks fears of rights abuses

EU assails unabated killing of activists
Philippine Daily Inquirer
by: Michael Lim Ubac
01/24/07

THE EUROPEAN UNION yesterday assailed the unabated killing of political activists in the Philippines and called on the Arroyo administration to put a stop to the attacks that have claimed hundreds of lives.

German Ambassador Axel Weishaupt said all EU members “deplore” the killings and the human rights abuses being reported out of the Philippines.

“We really hope that measures are taken to bring it to an end. We all hope that it will stop one day because it’s bad for the reputation of this country,” Weishaupt said in response to a question in an open forum at the Mandarin Hotel in Makati City.

He also expressed hope that the Melo Commission formed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to look into the killings would “come to a satisfying conclusion.”

Germany currently holds the six-month rotating presidency of the 27-member European bloc.

It was not the first time that the European Union had expressed dismay at the continued killings. In November last year, the EU representative in the Philippines said that whatever the number of the deadly attacks, what was significant was that these had not been prevented.

The human rights organization Karapatan says it had documented 820 killings of political activists since Ms Arroyo assumed power in 2001. [The Philippine Daily Inquirer count stands at about 260.] Of those killed, 123 were leaders and members of the leftist party-list group Bayan Muna.

The most recent Bayan Muna member to be killed, Prof. Jose Maria Cui, was shot dead on Jan. 19 in front of his class at the University of Eastern Philippines in Catarman, Northern Samar.

Another Bicol militant killed
The Philippine STAR
By Cet Dematera

01/25/07

SORSOGON CITY – Another member of the militant party-list group Bayan Muna was gunned down by two motorcycle-riding men at noon the other day in Gubat, Sorsogon, police said.

Senior Superintendent Joel Regondola, Sorsogon police director, said the victim, Ruben Ermino, 52, had just alighted from a tricycle near his house in Barangay Padi when he was shot with caliber .45 pistols.

Regondola said they have launched a manhunt for Ermino’s killers.

The killing occurred at least two weeks after Rodolfo Regalado, Albay chairman of Bayan Muna, was killed in an ambush in Barangay Guilid in Ligao City, Albay.

At least four more Bayan Muna members were slain late last year in Sorsogon, including brothers Cris and Max Frivaldo of Irosin town.

Militant and human rights groups blamed the government for the Bicol killings in a rally in front of Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City yesterday.

Besides the killing of Ermino, they accused the government of having a hand in the killings of Ananias Burce, a barangay captain in Tabaco, Albay last Sunday, and Demetrio Imperial, 26, of Castilla, Albay.

The human rights group Karapatan said the Bicol incidents brought to 824 the number of political killings since President Arroyo took power.

The government has repeatedly denied being behind the killings, forming Task Force Usig and the Melo Commission to probe the murders of militants as well as journalists.

Marines’ return sparks fears of rights abuses
Philippine Dailly Inquirer
by: Julie Alipala
01/25/07

ZAMBOANGA CITY-The Philippine Marines are back in Basilan.

But some political leaders and residents fear that their return would bring back human rights violations they allegedly committed in the 1980s.

Maj. Gen. Nelson Allaga, Philippine Marines Corps commandant, said the deployment of Marine soldiers “was part of the earliest plan for troop realignment based on geographical assignment.”

Maj. Eugene Batara, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command, said the transfer of the Marines to Basilan was “ongoing and we expect them … to pursue whatever the Army had started in the area, including the ongoing campaign of Culture of Peace.”

Batara said the 103rd Army Brigade would be transferred to the Lanao provinces and the 1st Marine Brigade would take over the headquarters of the Army in Tabiawan in Isabela City.

The Culture of Peace campaign has brought residents closer to men in uniform who helped reduce family or political feud in the area, according to Brig. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, 1st Tabak Division commander who once served as 103rd Army Brigade commander and initiated the campaign.

Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad said the arrival of Marines in the province is “not quite accepted” by the residents, particularly the IsabeleƱos.

“Isabela residents are adamant to the transfer and occupation of Marines in Basilan. They fear the coming of Marines because of past experiences that led to a series of violent activities,” the bishop said.

In a meeting with local leaders on Jan. 19, Jumoad learned from the residents that during the Marines’ occupation in the 1980s, kidnapping was rampant, there were cases of harassment and abuses in Marine detachments, Isabela was razed, and the Abu Sayyaf Group came to life.

Jumoad said the peace campaign “managed to restore peace where different faith communities live harmoniously.” But Allaga said it was unfair to accuse the Marines of committing rights violations in the 1980s. [End]

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