Melo Commission Report: Undisputed Facts

Feb. 23, 2007

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From the proceedings, it became plain that certain matters and facts were well-nigh undisputed. Although not necessarily proven in such a manner that would be binding in a court of law, these facts are nevertheless accepted as such by all concerned and, therefore, may be presumed to be true.

The first undisputed fact is that there indeed have been extralegal killings, and that the victims were almost entirely members of activist groups or were media personnel. The numbers of victims and the theories behind their deaths vary between the versions of the PNP and the military, on one hand, and Karapatan and Amnesty International, on the other. However, it is undisputed that there were killings.

More importantly, it is also undisputed that there was a rise in the number of killings to an extent sufficient to alarm activist groups, non-governmental organizations, the PNP, and, in fact, the President herself. Similarly expressing concern was the international community, especially the European Union. The military and police authorities likewise agree with the activist groups that there was even a rise in the extrajudicial killings of activists and militants between 2001 and 2006 as compared to a similar period prior thereto.

Likewise without dispute is the manner of the killings. From the reports of Task Force Usig, victims were generally unarmed, alone, or in small groups, and were gunned down by two or more masked or hooded assailants, oftentimes riding motorcycles. The assailants usually surprised the victims in public places or their homes, and made quick getaways. It is undisputed that the killings subject of the investigation did not occur during military engagements or firefights. These were assassination or ambush type killings, professional hits carried out quickly and with the assailants escaping with impunity.

It is also undisputed that the PNP has not made much headway in solving these killings. Out of the 111 killings of activists acknowledged by the PNP, only 37 had been forwarded to the proper prosecutors office for preliminary investigation or filed in court. Obviously, the reason for this poor score was the refusal of Karapatan and its allied groups to come forward and cooperate. Lastly, it is clear that the rise in killings of such activists whom the military brands as enemies of the state was to such an extent that it could not possibly be attributed to a simple increase in the crime rate. In fact, the circumstances clearly show that such killings of activists and media personnel is pursuant to an orchestrated plan by a group or sector with an interest in eliminating the victims, invariably activists and media personnel. The military establishment itself acknowledges this, by attributing the rise in killings to a purge of ranks by the CPP-NPA.

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