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REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES: Joint Press Release by Japanese NGOs concerning increased political killings in the Philippines

8 Dec 2006
Region: REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
Topic: Individual at risk
Japanese NGOs today visited the Embassy of the Philippines and submitted petitions demanding President Arroyo take immediate measures to stop political killings in the Philippines.
During the meeting with the First Secretary and Consul SULPICIO M. CONFIADO, the undersigned NGOs expressed grave concern about the increasing number of political killings in the country targeting members of legitimate leftist organizations, church workers, journalists, lawyers, and other social activists.

Although Japanese NGOs welcomed the fact that President Arroyo condemned the killings of activists in her address to the nation last July, they raised concerns that the killings continue unabated; moreover, there is no positive sign that those responsible will be brought to justice. We Japanese NGOs are particularly worried that the declaration of "all-out war" against communists and the labeling of those critical of the government as "Enemy of the State" by the government have fueled increased extrajudicial executions.

MAKOTO TERANAKA, Secretary General of Amnesty International (AI) Japan emphasized that a concrete measures to prevent such killings must be implemented as soon as possible.

MICHINORI MANO, Executive Secretary of National Christian Council in Japan, explained that churches in Japan are engaged in this campaign based on close linkages with the churches in the Philippines, which have been built over the last 30 years. He pointed out that the Armed Forces of the Philippines listed up churches and other legitimate civil society organizations as "Enemy of the State". It is hard to understand how such policy can be conducted by a democratic country.

NAOMI KANZAKI, Development Finance and Environment Program officer of Friends of the Earth Japan, also raised the issue of a specific case of killing in Pangasinan, where Mr. Jose Doton, the chairperson of the local farmers' organization that has opposed the Japanese-funded San Roque Multi-purpose Dam Project, was shot dead on May 16. The case has not been settled yet, even after the establishment of Task Force Usig and the Independent Melo Commission. FoE-Japan called on the government to accelerate the investigation of the case.

The First Secretary and Consul SULPICIO M. CONFIADO responded that he would convey the call together with submitted petitions. He also insisted that there is no national policy of tolerating political killings. SONOKO KAWAKAMI, Campaign Coordinator of AI Japan pointed out that the international community is suspicious about such word as long as the killings and impunity continued.

The petition called on the government of the Philippines to:

-Condemn all political killings consistently and at every level of government.
-Prohibit orders from superior officials or public authorities authorizing, inciting, or tacitly encouraging other persons to carry out unlawful killings.
-Prohibit and disband any "death squads", private armies, vigilantes, criminal gangs and paramilitary forces operating outside the chain of command but with official support or acquiescence.
-Ensure that all complaints and reports of political killings are investigated promptly, impartially and effectively.
-Ensure that those responsible for political killings are brought to justice in accordance with international standards.- Take action to fully implement the Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act (RA6981) in order to guarantee the safety of witnesses who testify in court.

At the end of the meeting Japanese NGOs urged President Arroyo to make public further steps to end extrajudicial executions during the ASEAN Summit in Cebu on 11 and 12 December.

After the meeting NGOs also commemorated all the victims of the extrajudicial executions in front of the Embassy.

Signatures for this petition were collected by the six Japanese NGOs listed below, starting from 16 October to the end of November. 1325 people in Japan and other countries endorsed the urgent demands to immediately stop political killings as a matter of urgency.

We, as members of Japanese civil society, also call on the government of Japan to publicly express its concern regarding the political killings in the Philippines during the ASEAN Summit in Cebu. Senior Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs KATSUHITO ASANO answered to a Diet interpellation last November 27 that they had already showed their concern on this matter to the Philippines Ambassador in Tokyo and they would also express their concern to the Philippines government and would take it into account when they consider the ODA provision to the Philippines according to Japanese ODA Charter.

Amnesty International JapanCampaign for Future of Filipino Children (CFFC)Citizens' Group to review the "50th Anniversary of the Philippines and Japan Friendship"Friends of the Earth JapanNational Christian Council in Japan WAYAWAYA

Date: 7 December 2006Tokyo

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