Human rights group sneers at TF 211


BAGUIO CITY — The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) sneered at the sincerity of the government efforts in investigating cases of extra-judicial killings under Task Force 211, a task force against political violence.

According to Jude Baggo, CHRA secretary general, the creation of this task force is just a scheme of the government to whitewash results of the investigations on extra-judicial killings and to make Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo seem to be doing something about human rights violations in the country.

“The fact that there are still killings all over the country and cases of enforced disappearances like that of James Balao, only shows how inutile the state is in prosecuting and putting the perpetrators to justice,” said Baggo.

TF 211 was formed November of 2007 through Administrative Order No. 211. Its mandate is to investigate political violence with focus on killings of militants, media practitioners and members of the trade unions.

At present, the task force is handling 251 cases with 12 resolved cases and 12 dismissals due to lack of sufficient evidence.

Department of Justice (DOJ) Under-secretary Ricardo Blancaflor, head of TF 211, said in a forum here Monday, cases of extra-judicial killings decreased 82-84% since the formation of the task force.

“The decrease is due to higher level of awareness of the people on the situation and the influence and pressure from all sectors,” said Blancaflor.

Blancaflor also cleared the involvement of the military in the killings saying that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) should be the one investigated.

“More likely the killings are done by CPP-NPA and blamed on the military or police forces,” said Blancaflor referring to the alleged killings in Mindanao due to communist purges.

Human rights advocates attribute human rights violations to state forces since these are mandated to protect the citizens. Killings by other forces than those in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) or the Philippine National Police (PNP) fall under the category of criminal offense such as murder or kidnapping, according to the CHRA and its umbrella organization, Karapatan.

“Although we still welcome the creation of TF 211, we continue to challenge the administration to genuinely investigate the cases especially those cases involving high military officials like Gen. Jovito Palparan,” ended Baggo. # Cye Reyes (NorDis)

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