Philippines welcomes leftist solon’s decision to testify on killings

May. 31, 2007

MANILA — Malacanang welcomed today the move of Rep. Satur Ocampo of the militant party-list Bayan Muna and the Alliance for the Advancement of Human Rights (KARAPATAN) to participate in the investigation of the extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations being conducted by the Melo Commission.

Militant activists had initially refused to testify before the Melo Commission, but Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita revealed during his weekly press briefing in Malacanang today that Ocampo and other members of militant groups have apparently changed their minds and were ready to appear before the commission on June 15.

The commission, headed by former Supreme Court Justice Jose Melo, was created by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in August 2006 to look into the spate of extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses in the country over the last several years.

But the refusal of victims of human rights violations and their families to testify had hobbled the Melo Commission investigations.

Ermita said that with the willingness of Ocampo and other members of militant groups to testify, Malacanang is hopeful that the government would be able to establish conclusive findings on the criminal acts and go after the culprits.

“We hope to be able to satisfy the clamor for more conclusive findings by the Melo Commission now that we got a signal that they (militants) will participate (in the investigation),” he added.

Ermita said commission chair Melo has informed Malacanang about the forthcoming appearance of Ocampo and other witnesses from the Kapatiran before the probe body.

The President has extended the mandate of the Melo Commission to June 30 to give it enough time to wind up its investigations and submit its findings to Malacanang. (OPS) (

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