In US Senate Hearing, Amnesty Int’l Suggests Ways to Stop Political Killings in the Philippines

Mar. 15, 2007

Satur on YouTube. Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo “testified” to the US Senate hearing through a video uploaded to YouTube. Click on image to watch the video.

In its testimony to the US Senate yesterday, Amnesty International cited the Philippine government’s weak responses to the political killings, the ineffective investigations, the McCarthyist mentality in the military and the government, the abuses of Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan. It made several recommendations, among them that the human rights laws and agreements, among them the Comprehensive Agreement for the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law that the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front signed, be respected. It also asked Washington to send a “strong and clear message” to Manila that U.S.Philippines relations “will suffer if the current trend in political killings continues and if Philippine authorities fail to bring past abusers to justice.”

Amnesty International Testimony
Extrajudicial Killings in the Philippines: Strategies to End the Violence
Before the Committee on Foreign Relations
Subcommittee on East Asian & Pacific Affairs
United States Senate

Presented by
T. Kumar
Advocacy Director for Asia & the Pacific
Amnesty International, USA
March 14, 2007

Thank you Madam Chair and distinguished members of this committee. Amnesty is pleased to testify at this important hearing.

For several years political killings in the Philippines have been of serious concern to Amnesty International which has issued reports, urgent actions and news releases to highlight the gravity of the situation. We also met with Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, President of the Republic of the Philippines, on September 14, 2006 to raise these concerns.

It is disturbing to note that, even though hundreds have been killed so far, to date there has not been a single conviction. The political killings are continuing in the Philippines, and even yesterday a witness to the UN envoy was gunned down. Amnesty International is concerned that the Governments declaration of all-out war on communism paves the way for further increases in killings.


The number of attacks on leftist activists and community workers rose sharply during the last couple of years. Most of the attacks were carried out by unidentified assailants on motorcycles, at times wearing face masks, who were often described as vigilantes or hired killers allegedly linked to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). In some cases, those attacked had reportedly been under surveillance by people linked to the security forces or had received death threats.

Those most at risk include members of legal leftist political parties, including Bayan Muna (People First) and Anakpawis (Toiling Masses), other human rights and community activists, priests, church workers, and lawyers regarded by the authorities as sympathetic to the broader communist movement.

Increased killings in particular provinces during President Arroyos Administration were reportedly linked to the public labelling of leftist groups as National Peoples Armys front organizations by the local AFP Commanders.

A climate of impunity shielding the perpetrators of such killings deepened as ineffective investigations failed to lead to the prosecution of those responsible. In many cases witnesses were reportedly too frightened to testify.

Most of the victims were not even members of armed groups, even though they may have sympathised with their ideology. It is a matter of importance for everyone in the Philippines that individuals should be able to affiliate with the political party or group of their choice and not be subject to politically motivated violence as a result.

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