Tag Archives: The Philippine Star

[In the news] IACAT warns airport personnel aiding human trafficking syndicates » Nation » News | Philippine News | philstar.com

IACAT warns airport personnel aiding human trafficking syndicates » Nation » News | Philippine News | philstar.com.

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking in Persons (IACAT) has vowed to intensify its campaign against airport officials and personnel facilitating or aiding operations of human trafficking syndicates.

In a statement, IACAT head and Justice Undersecretary Jose Vicente Salazar warned that all airport personnel who would conspire with human trafficking syndicates would be relieved from government service and charged in court.

Read full article@  philstar.com

[Press Release] International Rights Group says: P-NOY must step up efforts to free our country from human rights abuse and injustice – Amenesty International

International Rights Group says: P-NOY must step up efforts to free our country from human rights abuse and injustice, on the eve of Independence Day

On the eve of Philippine Independence Day, Amnesty International highlighted the continuing human rights abuse and called on President Aquino to step up efforts to free our country, especially Mindanao from impunity and injustice. This call was made by Amnesty International when it launched its Annual Human Rights report 2011 at Dynasty Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City on Saturday, June 11.

“Unlawful killings continue in our country under the Aquino government and justice remains elusive. The families of victims  of the Maguindanao massacre suffer from delayed justice, “ said Mr. Ritz Lee Santos III, Chairperson of Amnesty International Philippines.

“We are celebrating our independence from colonization this June 12 but we cannot celebrate freedom from human rights abuses. We cannot celebrate freedom from injustice in our country unless President Aquino and high officials of the Philippine government will step up their efforts to fight impunity and injustice,”  declared Dr. Aurora Parong, Director of Amnesty International Philippines.

Amnesty International’s report noted the killing of six journalists in 2010, including radio reporter Desiderio Camangyan in Mati City and Nestor Bedolido in Digos City.  The report also stated that more than 200 cases of enforced disappearances recorded in the last decade remained unresolved, as did at least 305 cases of extrajudicial execution (with some estimates ranging as high as 1,200). Almost no perpetrators of these crimes have been brought to justice.

The human rights group reported that private armed groups continued to operate throughout the country, despite government commitments to disband and disarm them. It noted that President Aquino vowed to disband and dis-arm private armies but refused to abolish CVOs, the CAFGU and police auxiliary units.

“President Aquino has to take concrete steps to disband the private armies in order to curb human rights abuses, especially in Mindanao. The trial of the alleged perpetrators of the Maguindanao massacre must be hastened if we do not want the slow justice to be turned in favour of the perpetrators. ,” asserted Mr. Santos.

Amnesty International’s  report also stated that in the Philippines, three indigenous peoples were victims of extrajudicial killings in the past year. It also noted the debates on sexual and reproductive rights in Congress. Amnesty International has publicly stated that the Reproductive Health Bill as they are in Congres, at the Senate and the House of representatives, is a step towards improving the rights to health especially of women and girls. The organization also said that the Reproductive health bill will improve access of marginalized sectors of society and those living in poverty to information and services necessary for decision making regarding their family.

At the global level, Amnesty International reported that:

Torture occurred in 98 countries
Unfair trials occurred in 54 countries
Prisoners of conscience are held in jails in 48 countries
Unlawful restrictions of freedom of expression occurred in 89 countries.

“2/3 of the peoples of the world do not have access to justice. We are launching a Global Call to Action to tip the scales against repression and injustice. We appeal to leaders of the world, including those in Asia to adopt a rights- based governance. In the Philippines, we call on President Aquino and high government officials to help tip the scales for justice and human rights in our country.  We hope that President Aquino will not let the legacy of impunity and injustice left by the Arroyo government to be immortalized.“ appealed Dr. Aurora Parong.

Amnesty International is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary. The anniversary comes against the backdrop of a changing human rights landscape, as people across the Middle East and North Africa courageously confront oppression, tyranny and corruption – often in the face of bloodshed and state violence. These protests dramatically demonstrate the need for international solidarity on human rights.

Amnesty International called on the peoples of the world to join its three million members and supporters worldwide to take action for human rights. Amnesty International monitors human rights in more than 150 countries and territories of the world.  Amnesty International was awarded the Noble Peace Prize in 1977.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
Press Release
Saturday, June 11, 2011, Cagayan de Oro City

[In the news] EDITORIAL – Ending impunity | The Philippine Star News Opinion

EDITORIAL – Ending impunity | The Philippine Star News Opinion.

Jovito Palparan has retired from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and no one has replaced him, in the eyes of activists and human rights advocates, as the face of the human rights violator. Yet the Aquino administration continues to be taken to task for the country’s human rights record.

The London-based rights watchdog Amnesty International cited 40 cases of extrajudicial killings since Benigno Aquino III assumed the presidency last year. The most notable case was that of botanist Leonard Co, who was killed, according to the military, when he was caught in the crossfire between government forces and the communist New People’s Army in Leyte.

A key concern of Amnesty International and other human rights advocates is the impunity that has arisen from the failure of the state to solve cases of human rights violations and bring the perpetrators to justice. That impunity had its worst manifestation in the massacre of 57 people, 32 of them media workers, in Maguindanao, in the country’s most atrocious case of political violence. The politicians accused of responsibility for the massacre clearly believed they could get away with the crime. While the mass murder was carried out two years ago under the previous administration, the case is dragging on in court, bolstering fears that litigation could take a hundred years.

Amnesty International lauded several initiatives undertaken by the Aquino administration to protect human rights, as it noted that most of the unsolved cases took place during the nine-year presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. AI counts 305 cases of extrajudicial killings and over 200 cases of enforced disappearances during the Arroyo administration that are still waiting to be solved.

Solution now lies at the hands of a new President, whose parents were human rights victims and icons of freedom. That legacy has created higher public expectations that Benigno Aquino III will end the culture of impunity that has guaranteed the continuation of human rights violations in this country.

[In the news] Malacañang defends record in solving unexplained killings | The Philippine Star News Headlines

Malacañang defends record in solving unexplained killings | The Philippine Star News Headlines.

By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star)

Manila, PhilippinesMalacañang defended yesterday its record in solving unexplained killings and ensuring that the human rights in the country are safeguarded.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview with radio dzRB that various steps had been taken to stop human rights violations and protect witnesses.

An Amnesty International report stated that human rights violations continue in the Philippines nearly a year after President Aquino assumed office.

If there are those that are bent on doing something criminal, there really would be things likes these. But it doesnt mean were not taking steps to decrease (rights violations) and prosecute those responsible for these crimes, Valte said. She said the Commission on Human Rights and the executive branch were working to have certainty of punishment for the perpetrators of crimes.

Valte said the Department of Justice that oversees the Witness Protection Program (WPP) had been assessing what could be done to make the WPP more effective.

She said its not fair to compare the current administration with the previous one because unexplained killings that occurred under the Aquino government have been resolved speedily.

Valte said of the six cases, the suspects in five of these had been arrested immediately after the crimes were committed.

And the cases are ongoing. This is an indication that there is progress in things that we want to pursue apprehension and prosecution, she said.

[In the news] Group against sex trafficking launched | The Philippine Star News Headlines

Group against sex trafficking launched | The Philippine Star News Headlines.

By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star)

Manila, Philippines – Various government and non-government organizations (NGOs) have joined hands in the campaign to fight sex trafficking in the country.

Representatives from government, media, the business sector and NGOs gathered at the Edsa Shangri-La Hotel Wednesday night in support of the Called to Rescue Foundation, a non-profit worldwide organization involved in rescuing minor children from sex trafficking, violence and abuse.

The event also saw the launching of a 24/7 hotline number – 0906 3063889 – that will respond to emergency or crisis calls from victims of trafficking.

“With all of us working together this situation in your country can be taken care of… as we all come together we can make this a sex trafficking-free country,” Dr. Cyndi Romine, president of Called to Rescue said.

Romine noted that one out of 10 trafficked children in the world is Filipino. “Every 12 minutes, a Filipino child is sex trafficked,” she said.

NBN-ZTE deal whistleblower Rodolfo Lozada, The STAR columnists Jarius Bondoc and Cito Beltran, beauty and wellness expert Cory Quirino and singer Kuh Ledesma were among the personalities who joined the stepped-up drive against sex trafficking.

Read full article @ Philstar.com

[In the news] ‘Sandiganbayan justices should resign’ | The Philippine Star News Headlines

‘Sandiganbayan justices should resign’ | The Philippine Star News Headlines.

By Dennis Carcamo (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines – A party-list lawmaker will file a resolution at the House of Representatives today, calling for the resignation of all justices of the Sandiganbayan in the wake of its approval of the plea bargaining agreement between government prosecutors and former military comptroller Carlos Garcia.

Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño said he will file the resolution to condemn the move of the justices of the anti-graft body.

“We want Congress to support this because of the strong evidence against Garcia,” Casiño said in a media forum in San Juan City this morning.

He also warned concerned justices that they would likely suffer the fate of Ombudsman Merciditas Gutierrez, who was forced to resign from her post late last month.

“We started with the Ombudsman, probably we can also start with the Sandibayan justices,” he pointed out.

He said Sandiganbayan’s decision upholding the plea deal was expected as it had allowed Garcia to post bail.

“We we’re not totally surprised because Sandiganbayan earlier has allowed Garcia to post bail,” he said.

Casiño added that the move of the Sandiganbayan justices preempts the legal remedies on the Garcia case that should have been used by the next Ombudsman.

Read full article @ Philstar.com

[In the news] EDITORIAL – Growth without development | The Philippine Star News Opinion

EDITORIAL – Growth without development | The Philippine Star News Opinion.

philstar.com

Economic managers of the previous administration, who took pride in the country’s economic performance despite unending political turbulence, acknowledged that the fruits of growth did not trickle down to the masses. They also acknowledged what many quarters have often pointed out: economic growth could not keep pace with population growth.

Last week a study prepared by the United Nations Development Program projected moderate economic growth of 5.2 percent this year for the Philippines — a slowdown from last year’s 7.3 percent that was pushed up in part by election spending. That 5.2 percent is nothing to sneeze at in this period of soaring food and fuel prices and continuing financial woes for other countries. But the UNDP said economic growth would not translate into development and could increase poverty.

Unveiling the results of the 2011 Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific, the director of UNDP in the Philippines, Renaud Meyer, said fairly stable economic growth in the country for the past decade has failed to make a significant dent in alleviating poverty. He attributed this in part to population growth, and called on the government to “immediately” implement a “rational population management policy.” Renaud also said Philippine economic growth has not been inclusive and, at worst, “increases poverty, benefiting few industries, few regions, and a few sectors of society.”

Read full article @ Philstar.com

[In the news] EDITORIAL – Climate change and corruption | The Philippine Star News Opinion

EDITORIAL – Climate change and corruption | The Philippine Star News Opinion.

Philstar.com

Here’s another reason to intensify efforts to fight corruption: the scourge that has derailed almost every major infrastructure project in this country and held back development efforts is also detrimental to climate change mitigation and adaptation measures, according to Transparency International.

In a report released last week, the global watchdog against corruption listed the Philippines among several countries most vulnerable to climate change, particularly its visible effects — drought, typhoons, rising sea levels and flooding. At the same time, the Philippines rated poorly in Transparency’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index, garnering a dismal score of 2.4 in terms of corruption risk on a scale of 0 to 10, with zero being the worst. Government effectiveness, meanwhile, was rated a middling 55.0.

Read full article @ Philstar.com (link above)

[In the news]Mining as big ticket industry to save our poor – FROM A DISTANCE By Carmen N. Pedrosa | The Philippine Star News Opinion

Mining as big ticket industry to save our poor – FROM A DISTANCE By Carmen N. Pedrosa | The Philippine Star News Opinion.

FROM A DISTANCE By Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star)

There are several sides in the mining controversy following the landslide that killed more than a dozen people in Pantukan town, Compostela Valley. The Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) and Bantay Kalikasan is one. It immediately blamed large-scale mining although the disaster involved its opposite  small mining or mining by poor people with picks and shovels. This line of attack is similar to the Ortega murder when his murder was blamed for his broadcasts against mining in Palawan. Ortega is a broadcaster, a journalist, who, true to his calling, took up a number of advocacies, mining being one of them. He was also against graft.

The initial findings of Ortega’s alleged murder leads to his crusade against local officials whom he accused of graft. The graft comes from the misuse of funds from the share of local authorities from Malampaya, the oil and gas being piped into the city by its owners Shell and the Lopez-owned First Philippine Holdings. (It is the same First Philippine Holdings that has been sued by condominium owners of West Tower where a leaking oil pipe was found). We will never hear of this from Bantay Kalikasan even if oil exploration is mining and is equally a source of environmental degradation. Gasoline and oil coming from mined fossil fuels run electricity, cars and most industries.

I am all for guarding our environment and the judicious use of our natural resources, but any campaign against mining should be fair and applied equally. Groups that want mining banned are being hypocritical because almost all that we use in our daily lives come from metals and minerals whether cars, computers, medical instruments and houses.

Allied with the Bantay Kalikasan are sectors of the Catholic church with one bishop calling for a moratorium on mining until “an efficient monitoring is in place”. One of the injured miners asked the bishop “whether he could also put a moratorium on his family’s hunger.” Living in those outlying god-forsaken areas without roads or other amenities have made the poor living there turn to small mining for their livelihood. The Filipino saying “kapit sa patalim” best describes their predicament.

Read full article @ Philstar.com (link above)

[In the news] De Lima wants NBI to pursue probe on activist’s kidnap | The Philippine Star News Nation

De Lima wants NBI to pursue probe on activist’s kidnap | The Philippine Star News Nation.

By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star)

TManila, Philippines – If it wasn’t the military, then who could be behind the kidnapping and torture of Filipino-American activist Melissa Roxas?

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima wants the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to find an answer to this question after the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) cleared the military in Roxas’ abduction in La Paz, Tarlac in May 2009.

De Lima said she would adopt the recommendation of the CHR for the NBI to pursue further investigation to determine which group should be held liable for the incident.

She said she would read first the entire CHR report before issuing an order for the NBI to pursue the probe.

The Roxas abduction was among the cases left by De Lima when she gave up the CHR chairmanship in July 2010 to head the Department of Justice.

“What I know is that before I left the commission there were certain findings already before. There was a team which was dispatched for confidential mission. And I think this CHR report was the result of that investigation,” she said.

“There is no showing or proof that the military was involved… But there is also no categorical finding as to who did it. There is insinuation or indication that it could be the NPA (New People’s Army) but there’s no categorical proof, that’s why the CHR wants the NBI to pursue the investigation,” she added.

Read full article @ Philstar.com.ph (Link above)

[In the news] DOLE: No Labor Day wage hike | The Philippine Star News Headlines

DOLE: No Labor Day wage hike | The Philippine Star News Headlines.

By Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines –  Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz clarified yesterday that there will be no announcement of a salary increase on May 1, despite Malacañang’s pronouncement that the government is coming out with a Labor Day gift that will help workers cope with the rising prices of commodities.

“I have no idea what good news he is talking about. But definitely there is no chance for any wage increase because the earliest public hearing is set on May 2,” Baldoz explained.

Baldoz noted that President Aquino had already declared that he would leave the decision on salary adjustments to the regional wage boards although he could give instructions to hasten the process.

She, however, assured workers that the wage boards, particularly in Metro Manila, could grant a salary increase within the month.

“I think within the month of May, they should be able to finish the deliberation and come out with their decision,” Baldoz said.

Read full article @ Philstar.com (link above)

[In the news] Senate bill seeks increase in excise taxes on mining, quarrying | The Philippine Star News Headlines

Senate bill seeks increase in excise taxes on mining, quarrying | The Philippine Star News Headlines.

By Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines –  In a bid to help the national government generate more revenues and address the problem on the shortage of classrooms in several provinces, Sen. Ralph Recto is pushing for the passage of a bill that will increase the excise taxes on mining and quarrying.

Recto, chairman of the Senate ways and means committee, has filed Senate Bill 2754 seeking to increase the excise tax on minerals, mineral products and quarrying, amending in the process certain sections of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997.

In his explanatory note, Recto’s bill recommends the increase of the tax imposed on minerals and quarry resources from two percent to seven percent. Although the ad valorem rate guarantees increased tax revenues during periods of high commodity prices, Recto said these increments are volatile.

“With the passage of this bill, the national government can look forward to higher revenues than it has collected in recent years. All things other than the excise tax rates being the same, the government will expect an excise tax collection from minerals and quarry resources amounting to between P1.7 billion to P3.3 billion,” Recto said.

Read full article @ PHILSTAR.com (follow the link above)

[In the news] CBCP exec admits some priests support RH bill | The Philippine Star News Headlines

CBCP exec admits some priests support RH bill | The Philippine Star News Headlines.

By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines –  Despite the staunch opposition of the Catholic Church to the Reproductive Health (RH) bill, there are some priests who support it, a bishop disclosed yesterday.  “Well, in the Church, there’s a space for dissent also… Even the 10 commandments, there are many who disobey it, right?” said Pampanga Archbishop

Paciano Aniceto, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, in an interview.

He said these priests have not openly voiced their support for the bill but bishops are aware of their positions.

“We leave it to their conscience. We respect that. But majority are not in favor. I think, in their own moral and theological discernment, we should respect them for that,” Aniceto said.

Read full article @ PHILSTAR.com

[In the news] Earth Day rites moved to April 25 | The Philippine Star News Headlines

Earth Day rites moved to April 25 | The Philippine Star News Headlines.

By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines – President Aquino has signed Administrative Order 12 moving the Earth Day celebration to April 25 from April 22, which falls on Good Friday.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa noted that Good Friday is also a non-working holiday.

“The President deems it best to move Earth Day celebrations to April 25 this year to allow more people to participate in the activities and make the occasion more meaningful,” he said in a statement.

Earth Day celebrations -coordinated worldwide by the Earth Day Network -are held to promote awareness on the need for environmental conservation because of the adverse effects of climate change.

Read full article at Philstar.com

[In the news] Earth Day rites moved to April 25 | The Philippine Star News Headlines

Earth Day rites moved to April 25 | The Philippine Star News Headlines.

By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines – President Aquino has signed Administrative Order 12 moving the Earth Day celebration to April 25 from April 22, which falls on Good Friday.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa noted that Good Friday is also a non-working holiday.

“The President deems it best to move Earth Day celebrations to April 25 this year to allow more people to participate in the activities and make the occasion more meaningful,” he said in a statement.

Earth Day celebrations -coordinated worldwide by the Earth Day Network -are held to promote awareness on the need for environmental conservation because of the adverse effects of climate change.

Read full article at Philstar.com

[In the news] Aquino urged to act on media killings | The Philippine Star News Headlines

Aquino urged to act on media killings | The Philippine Star News Headlines.

By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines –  A former Sandiganbayan justice urged yesterday President Aquino to work on ending the killings of journalists and activists in the country instead of blaming the judiciary for the violence.

Former Sandiganbayan justice Raoul Victorino was commenting on the statement of presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda that the judiciary was to be blamed for the unresolved cases of killings of journalists in the country.

He said as a retired justice, he felt that it was his obligation “to defend the judiciary from baseless and uncalled-for criticisms, especially those coming from persons who are expected to protect and respect the institution.”

“The statement of spokesman Edwin Lacierda shifting the blame over the media killings to the judiciary does not, to my mind, help anyone. It gives no assurance whatsoever to our citizens, especially the families and loved ones of the slain journalists, that our government is doing something to address their concerns,” Victorino said.

Read full article at Philstar.com

[In the news] Ampatuan to be charged with plunder | The Philippine Star News Headlines

 

Zaldy Ampatuan File photo source: tunaynalalake.blogspot.com

Ampatuan to be charged with plunder | The Philippine Star News Headlines.

By Edu Punay, Source: Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines –  Detained former governor Zaldy Ampatuan and other former officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will be charged with plunder for the alleged misallocation of ARMM funds worth at least P2.559 billion.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo met yesterday to map out the filing of charges and eventual prosecution of the case.

It was agreed during the closed-door meeting that the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) would turn over to the Department of Justice (DOJ) within this week the Commission on Audit (COA) report and other documents detailing excessive disbursements of ARMM funds made during Ampatuan’s tenure from January 2008 to September 2009, including an unaccounted amount worth P1 billion.

“We will evaluate those documents so (we) can form appropriate legal strategy in pursuing that plunder case,” De Lima said.

“We have to really closely examine them so we can come up with a clean legal perspective of the case.”

Speaking to reporters, De Lima said she plans to create a special committee of state prosecutors for this purpose.

The evaluation would be done with the assistance of the Office of the Solicitor General, she added.

De Lima said they plan to determine who could be held liable for the questionable disbursement of ARMM funds uncovered during a COA special audit conducted from Feb. 1 to Dec. 20 last year.

Robredo said they are submitting 15 names to the DOJ, including Ampatuan as the highest official, for investigation.

De Lima said they would also look into possible cover-up of the anomaly.

“In the first place, why was the audit conducted only last year?” she said.

“There are supposed to be auditors assigned there – they are either scared or complicit.

“This (anomaly) should not have passed if those involved followed the processes and inspected the projects before releasing the funds.”

[In the news] UN agency urges universal access to reproductive health | The Philippine Star News Headlines

UN agency urges universal access to reproductive health | The Philippine Star News Headlines.

By Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines –  The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) urged yesterday member states and development partners to support access to reproductive health for women.

UNFPA executive director Babatunde Osotimehin asked member states and development partners to take quick action to facilitate universal access to reproductive health, the empowerment of women and poverty alleviation.

“We need to keep pushing to make universal access to reproductive health a reality,” Osotimehin said.

He said that investing in the health and rights of women and young people is not expenditure but rather an investment for the future.

One of the most urgent actions required is the closing of the $24-billion gap in funding required to finance programs to meet the needs of 1.8 billion young people and 1.8 billion women of childbearing age globally.

A recent report by the UN stated that family planning and demographic change alone reduced poverty by one-seventh in developing countries between 1960 and 2000, and could produce another one-seventh drop in poverty levels by 2015.

According to the report, if existing requirements for modern contraceptives were met, nearly 100,000 maternal deaths could be averted and unintended pregnancies could be cut by 71 percent.

Osotimehin said “some 215 million women in developing countries who want to plan and space their births do not have access to modern contraception.”

“Each year, neglect of sexual and reproductive health results in an estimated 80 million unintended pregnancies, 22 million unsafe abortions, and 358,000 deaths from maternal causes – including 47,000 deaths from unsafe abortion,” he added.

A member of the UN delegation that visited the Philippines early this month underscored the importance of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill, citing global evidence of improvement of countries after putting similar measures in place.

Nojibur Rahman, economic minister of the permanent mission of Bangladesh to the United Nations and team leader and spokesperson of the UN delegation that visited the Bicol region, said countries do better when families are managed well.

[In the news] AFP says US report on killings unfair | The Philippine Star News Headlines

AFP says US report on killings unfair | The Philippine Star News Headlines.

By Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star)

 

Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta Jr. File photo source: newsflash.org

MANILA, Philippines –  The military yesterday branded as “unfair” a US State Department report blaming Philippine security forces for a spate of unlawful killings in 2010.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta Jr. maintained the military advocates respect for human rights and complies with the international humanitarian law (IHL).

“That (blaming security forces for killings) is unfair. It has to be substantiated. AFP has improved leaps and bounds since last year wherein we gave emphasis on the primacy of human rights, IHL and rule of law,” Mabanta said.

He said the data that served as basis of the US State Department report released last Friday could be outdated.

“From all indications, it (data) may be outdated. There has been a lot of improvements already,” he said.

Mabanta said unlawful killings are not tolerated under AFP’s new security plan “Bayanihan” which emphasizes the need for peaceful resolution of armed conflict.

In its 2010 human rights report on the Philippines, the US State Department blamed security forces and anti-government guerrillas for a spate of arbitrary and unlawful killings during the year.

The report said arbitrary killings by elements of the security services and political killings by a variety of state and non-state actors continued to be serious problems. Journalism remains to be a dangerous profession in the Philippines, the report added.

The US State Department noted that the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) investigated 53 new complaints of politically-motivated killings involving 67 victims last year.

The CHR has suspected military and policemen in the killing of some activists critical of the government.

Mabanta said the AFP is working hand-in-hand with the Philippine National Police to ensure the protection of civilians including media.

The US State Department report, quoting military sources, also stated that 176 members of the AFP were killed while fighting with rebel and terrorist groups in 2010. The figure is higher than the 166 fatalities suffered by the communist New People’s Army (NPA) and the 10 deaths of the Abu Sayyaf terrorists.

Mabanta expressed doubts on the figure and insisted the AFP is winning the fight against armed rebels.

“I beg to disagree (with the figures cited by the report). I don’t think it’s true. All our data showed that we (have) the upper hand in all aspects to include casualties and firearms recovered,” he said.

Mabanta said he does not know where the US State Department obtained its figures.

Military estimates as of end-2010 peg the NPA’s strength at about 4,100 and the number of Abu Sayyaf members at about 340.

The US State Department report also raised concerns about the recruitment of children by the NPA, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Abu Sayyaf.

Mabanta said the AFP is in favor of including the issue of child warriors in the peace talks with Muslim and communist rebels.