Melo Commission Report: Presentation of Witnesses/Resource Persons

Feb. 23, 2007

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A. Task Force Usig; PNP Deputy Director Gen. Avelino I. Razon, Jr.

1. Introduction

Task Force Usig (TFU) was created, upon instructions of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, by Secretary Ronaldo V. Puno of the Department of Interior and Local Government, to investigate the media and political killings.

2. Statistics on killed activists and newsmen/media men .

TFU reported that from the 2001 to 2006, the total number of slain/party list members reached 111 while the total number of media men killed for the same period reached 26. TFUs statistics are much lower than the figures reported by Karapatan and Amnesty International for the same period. According to Karapatan, there was a total of 724 killings while Amnesty International claims that there was a total of 244 killings. Gen. Razon could not explain the difference in the figures because according to him, Karapatan and Amnesty International have refused to meet with TFU. An updated report of TFU as of 23 November 2006 shows an increased total of 115 cases of killings of activists or militants. Out of this total, 46 cases are already filed in court and the remaining 69 are still under extensive investigation and case build-up.

2.1 Out of the 111 extrajudicial militant killings, 37 criminal complaints have been filed, while 74 cases are still under investigation. The low number of cases filed is allegedly due to: (1) lack of witnesses; (2) absence of sufficient evidence; and (3) the pendency of preliminary investigation. Gen. Razon further added that there is lack of confidence in the impartiality of police, fear of reprisal by other elements of society, and lack of interest of the victims families.

2.2 Of the total of 26 media persons killed, twenty one (21) cases have been filed while five (5) are still under investigation. When asked to explain the substantial difference in the efficiency of the investigation on media men killings vis--vis militant persons, Gen. Razon said that in the case of media personnel, there are more witnesses and the police have received more cooperation from the media.

3. Cases solved

Gen. Razon stated that the PNP deems a case solved in line with a NAPOLCOM Resolution stating that a case is solved when a suspect has been identified and charges have been filed before the prosecutor or the court, without prejudice to further investigation. However, Gen. Razon clarified that it is not an international definition.

In truth, the solution efficiency of 29% is even deceptive or misleading. As stated in TFUs updated report Out of the total 45 cases filed in court, the PNP has filed 5 cases with 8 arrested suspects who are all in jail; filed 25 cases under preliminary investigation, filed 1 case with surrendered suspect, while the suspects for the remaining 15 incidents are still at large and are subject of manhunt operations. It is not, therefore, entirely accurate that 45 cases have already been filed in court since 25 cases [are] under preliminary investigation. Thus, only 20 cases have actually been filed in court; 25 cases are only under preliminary investigation. These cases may yet be dismissed for lack of probable cause. Of the 20 cases filed in court, the accused or suspects have been arrested in only (6) cases. It cannot then be accurately said that the accused in the 27 cases have been brought to justice. Indeed, with respect to the 78 cases still under extensive investigation, it is even doubtful whether the perpetrators can even be identified.

When asked for the meaning of the term of under extensive investigation, Gen. Razon said in each case, regular case conferences are held, more men are assigned to investigate and the organization of special teams such as TFU. Upon inquiry, he replied that TFU receives a monthly budget of P300,000.00. As an incentive, each member of the unit receives P5,000.00 for every suspect captured or case solved.

Gen. Razon further testified that the PNP has not been successful in investigating the killings of militants because the CPP/NPA has terrorized the witnesses.

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