EU voices concern over rights abuses, AFP-PNP involvement

By Michaela P. del Callar


European Union (EU) parliamen-tarians yesterday voiced concern over the human rights situation in the Philippines and lamented the alleged involvement of some of the country’s security forces in the commission of extra-judicial killings against left-wing militants.

Germany’s Hartmut Nassauer, member of the European Par-liament and chairman of the delegation for relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), said a worsening human rights condition is a sign of a weakening state of law.

“It’s something that poses concern on the quality of the state of law. We see democracy always linked to state of law. Without democracy, without a state of law, there are no human rights,” Nassauer told reporters.

“I hope the government will take all measures necessary to solve the problem of extra-judicial killings. It’s sad that some parts of the Armed Forces could be involved. That’s a point of concern and the EU is ready to support in all steps to solve this problem,” he added.

For his part, Jules Maaten, EU parliamentarian from The Netherlands, expressed alarm over the rising number of militants being killed or have disappeared.

Maaten also urged the

government to strenghten its efforts to stop the killings.

“It’s a big issue. It’s very worrying because the Philippines is one of the most democratic countries in Asia and we have seen with great worry that democracy has come under threat in some Asian countries like Thailand but also elsewhere and therefore we take seriously anything that destabilizes Philippine democracy. And the extra-judicial killings, which has to be stopped,” he said.

In Singapore, the Philippine News Agency reported that President Arroyo underscored the creation of a human rights body for the entire Asean.

In her speech Monday at the informal dinner of the 13th Asean Leaders Meeting held in Singapore, the President said Asean leaders stand “on the frontiers of a new era for our region with the Asean Charter, a task that we started at our Summit in Cebu.”

“In drafting that important document, the Philippines insisted that the protection of human rights be a crucial and indispensable part of that Charter,” she said.

“I am pleased that in our draft, we will establish a human rights body,” she added.

She claimed that the belief of the Filipino people and the Philippine Congress, including herself, “that those who will sign the Charter agree to the objective, spirit and intent of establishing a human rights body —the full protection of human rights within Asean.”

Maaten, meanwhile, praised the Philippine Supreme Court for implementing the writ of amparo that will summon either the military or the Philippine National Police (PNP) to explain its involvement in killing or abduction of a victim.

Maaten said the EU is “very pleased” with the move that was taken by the high court.

“It was necessary to come up with some sort of a solution. Of course it would have been better if it has come through the democratic process and by Congress and by the President. But what the Supreme Court has done is that it has helped the process,” he said.

“It has already had some success. At the end of the day, the responsibility for making sure that this is resolved falls on the political leaders,” Maaten added.

Close to 900 cases of extra-judicial killings and 300 forced disappearances in the Philippines have been recorded by local human rights group Karapatan.

Since it took effect in Oct. 24, the SC on Friday issued its fifth writ of amparo.

Amparo comes from the Spanish word amparar, which literally means “to protect.” The writ of amparo may be availed of by any person whose right to life, liberty, and security has been violated or is threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission by public officials or employees and by private individuals or entities.

Meanwhile, the nine visiting European Parliamentarians, who will be in Manila until Nov. 23, will also meet with their counterparts in the House of Representatives and the Senate in the framework of its regular interparliamentary dialogs.

The visiting delegation is led by Nassauer (Germany) and includes Maaten, Ms. Giovanna Corda (Belgium), Mr. Jean-Pierre Audy France), Ms. Barbara Weiler (Germany), Mr. Szabolcs Fazakas (Hungary), Mr. Csaba Ory (Hungary), Mr. Dariusz Grabowski (Poland) and Mr. Glyn Ford (United Kingdom).

Ambassador Alistair MacDonald, Head of the European Commission Delegation in Manila, said “the Parliament’s visit to Manila is the first since 2002, and is a welcome confirmation of Europe’s abiding interest in the Philippines.

The delegation met yesterday with Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Deputy Speaker Raul del Mar, Supreme Court Justice Renato Puno, Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights Purificacion Quisumbing and Presidential Adviser Secretary Jose Dureza, as well as a number of senior government officials and representatives of civil society and the media.

They will also be received by Foreign Secretary Romulo and by President Arroyo in Malacañang.

In their discussions with their Philippine counterparts, the European Parliamentarians, aside from human rights, exchanged views on a number of issues relevant to EU-Philippine relations and to recent developments in the Philippines and the region, including EU-Philippine trade and investment relations, policy dialog and development cooperation; developments in the Philippines, such as trade and economic developments, the fight against poverty and the MDGs, the peace processes, labor and migration; ASEAN integration and the situation in Myanmar. With PNA

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