Philippine human rights group denounces political killings

A Philippine human rights organization on Tuesday decried unabated political killings and other attacks against leftist activists in the country despite the government's assurances to end the atrocities, dpa reported.

In its annual human rights report, Karapatan said the government of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had failed to fulfill its promises to the international community that it would protect human rights in the country.

"The Arroyo government has not lived up to the promise of respecting the dignity and fulfilling the human rights of Filipinos, as we have not been any better over the last eight years despite repeated claims to eradicating poverty and improving democracy," the report said.

"The government has instead unleashed the brutality of its armed forces against the very people whose lives it has sworn to protect," it added.

According to Karapatan, a "killing spree" triggered by the military's anti-communist insurgency campaign raged in the first 10 months of 2008.

"From January to October 2008, extra-judicial killings have already claimed the lives of 50 victims while seven persons have been involuntarily disappeared," the report said.

The 2008 figure brought to 977 the victims of extra-judicial killings and 201 the victims of enforced disappearances during the past seven years and 10 months under the Arroyo administration.

"That the acts of violence persist indicate no significant shift in the internal security policy of government and that the perpetrators, and their masterminds are still at large," Karapatan said in the report.

It claimed that while the number of slain activists declined from a high of 220 in 2006, that was only "a tactical ploy to appease global public outrage and never the result of any measure taken by government to arrest, prosecute and convict those allegedly responsible for the atrocities."

The Arroyo government came under fire from the international community for the political killings after a UN special investigator blamed the military for most of the deaths, and noted that some policies of the government foster the murders, such as its anti-insurgency campaign.

A local inquiry conducted by a commission formed by Arroyo also blamed majority of the killings on the military, which has denied any involvement in the attacks.

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