Press Release
August 12, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today challenged the Arroyo government to make good on its pledge to stop extra-judicial killings of political activists and journalists and other violations of human rights if the opposition is to drop its resistance to the enactment of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Pimentel said he believes there is a need for legislation to combat the sophisticated methods that terrorists employ to harm the innocent.

But he said it would be unwise to approve this bill while the administration has not shown sincerity and determination to solve political killings and prevent them from recurring especially where soldiers and policemen have been tagged as the perpetrators.

The problem with the government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is that even if there is no Anti-Terrorism Law yet, it has been harassing people who are perceived to be her political enemies. They are being treated like terrorists, he said.

Pimentel said the acts of harassment have continued even after the abduction, detention and torture of five followers of former President Joseph Estrada were exposed in the media.

He bewailed the failure to solve the abduction and disappearance of two female students of the University of the Philippines and a farmer in Hagonoy, Bulacan last June 26, as well as many other student activists from different universities that were allegedly perpetrated by soldiers.

Pimentel said the parents and other relatives of the missing students have complained about the lack of seriousness on the part of law enforcers to investigate the cases apparently because the suspected perpetrators are being coddled by the authorities.

As long as it is not clear how President Arroyo will make use of the Anti-Terrorism Act, it may be better not have it passed in the meantime. Or the President should resign first from her position before we can discuss this legislation, he said.

Pimentel also assailed the Palace for denigrating the findings of the International Peasant Solidarity Mission (IPSM) that the military is behind most of killings of leftist activists without first bothering to read the report and accompanying pieces of evidence gathered by the group. The IPSM, composed of representatives from various countries, conducted a probe of the political slayings by interviewing witnesses, including relatives of the victims, and going to the scenes of the crimes.

He deplored the sweeping Palace statement dismissing the IPSMs report as another demolition job by the black propaganda machine of our detractors.

Statements like this coming from the Palace, according to Pimentel, indicates that the Arroyo administration is bent on covering up the involvement of the military and police in these crimes and has no intention of unmasking the real perpetrators and rendering justice to the innocent victims.

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