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Little Progress Has Been Made in Fact-Finding about Political Killings in Philippines

     It has been argued that, in the Philippines, many leftist activists have been killed with the involvement of the armed forces and the police since President Arroyo came to power in 2001. In response to national and international criticism to this effect, President Arroyo set up the Commission to Conduct an Independent Probe of the Killings of Journalists and Leftist Activists, which is generally called "the Melo Commission" after the name of its chairperson. When the Melo Commission sent a subpoena to the National Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for information, however, CHR Chair Purification Quisumbing rejected the request, stating, "The Melo Commission should come to the CHR office and get the data by themselves".
     Chair Melo responded, "The CHR may be a little sensitive, feeling that our Commission is intruding into their work. It is understandable". He explained that the Melo Commission only wanted to compare the names of the victims of political killings, which have been gathered respectively by the National Police's Task Force, the private human rights organization KARAPATAN, the international non-governmental organization Amnesty International and the CHR.
     Against the background of this request lie great gaps between the numbers of the victims announced by different bodies, from some 100 according to the National Police to more than 700 according to KARAPATAN. They do not have cooperative relationships with each other, which has made it impossible to uncover the truth.
     Civil society organizations and opposition party members have doubted the independent nature of the Melo Commission since its establishment. These days it is criticized for having taken testimonies only from military and police officials. "The victims' families and other witnesses do not respond to our requests for testimonies", explains Chair Melo.
     It is assumed that they do not want to testify partly because of safety concerns.

Source: INQ7.NET, 4, October, 2006. "CHR chair refuses to answer Melo panel's questions"

See also: Commission Established in Philippines to Inquire into Killings of NGO Members and Journalists (Hurights Osaka News In Brief)