EDITORIAL – Dirty war | The Philippine Star News Opinion

EDITORIAL – Dirty war | The Philippine Star News Opinion.

In addition to fighting corruption, the only son of two democracy icons is expected to wage a spirited battle against human rights violations. So far the record shows that President Aquino still needs to do a lot more in this effort.

The latest Human Rights report prepared by the US State Department showed that cases of arbitrary and unlawful killings in the Philippines remained high last year, with the attacks perpetrated by both government forces and insurgent and terrorist groups. The report noted that the Armed Forces of the Philippines killed 131 people tagged as insurgents and terrorists in 2010 while the Philippine National Police killed 44 suspected members of the communist New People’s Army. The NPA, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Abu Sayyaf, for their part, killed 176 members of the AFP and 11 PNP officers.

Several left-leaning activists and journalists were murdered last year, with attacks reported even after the change of administration. As in previous years, a number of the attacks were blamed on government forces. The MILF and NPA, meanwhile, continued to use children as soldiers, according to the report. The insurgents and terrorists also murdered local government executives and civilians, and staged bomb attacks and kidnapping for ransom. Ongoing peace initiatives with the two groups have not stopped human rights violations on both sides.

Fighting insurgents is almost always dirty, and battling terrorists even more so. International rules on warfare rarely apply. Still, the government, especially in a democracy, must lead the way in upholding human rights even in the dirtiest wars. Never mind if rebel groups refuse to be bound by international rules on warfare. A healthy respect for human rights wins hearts and minds, depriving insurgents of crucial public support, and raising the government’s chances of winning the war.

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