Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
Armed Forces of the Philippines
The Philippine Armed Forces, with about 110,000 soldiers, has been focused since the 1950's on fighting the New People's Army (armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.) AFP leadership blames the epidemic of extra-judicial executions and abductions on the CPP/NPA, saying they are the result of an internal purge within the rebel groups.
AFP report on the Melo Commission Report
Amnesty International is a well-known international human rights organization.
Amnesty International Philippines Report 2006
"In its August 2006 report Philippines: Political killings, human rights and the peace process, AI documents such killings and outlines the duty of the government to protect the right to life of every individual in the country - irrespective of their background or political affiliation."
Anakpawis (Toiling Masses)
Anakpawis blog (old site, not maintained)
Anakpawis is one on three legal partylist groups (along with Bayan Muna and Gabriela) that has have been singled out for harassment by the AFP. The group's stated goal is to focus on legislation concerning the issues of the basic masses – workers, peasants, and urban poor. Anakpawis has two members serving in the Philippine Congress: Representatives Rafael Mariano and Crispin Beltran.
Bayan ("The People")
Bayan is a leading leftist umbrella organization with close ties to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP.)
"The Melo report may have been designed as a win-win solution for the Arroyo administration. It assuaged public outrage over the killings by tagging a small group of military men along with the notorious Gen. Palparan as responsible for the crimes. At the same time, it shielded Arroyo and her cabinet from any responsibility arising from government policies."
Bayan Muna ("The People First")
Bayan Muna is one on three legal partylist groups (along with Anakpawis and Gabriela) that have been singled out for harassment by the AFP. The group claims that 121 of its members have been killed by the military since President Arroyo came to power in 2001. Bayan Muna has two members serving in Philippine Congress: Representatives Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño. The Arroyo Administration and AFP claim that Bayan Muna is just a front organization for the CPP/NPA.
Representatives Satur Ocampo: “If the U.S. sincerely wants to help the Philippines to stop the killings, Washington must stop all types of military assistance to and intervention in Philippine internal affairs."
Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
Commission on Human Rights
CHR is an "independent office" of the Philippine government, with commission members being appointed by the President.
In a 2005 statement, the Commission found that "On the basis of the investigation reports (38 reported killings and harassment gathered from the CHR Regional Offices), most of the perpetrators are perceived to belong to the military and/or paramilitary arms of the government."
Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)
Although it is presently a legal organization, the CPP and its armed wing the NPA (New Peoples Army) are the primary targets of the AFP's counter-insurgency campaign Oplan Bantay Laya II. Talks with the Philippines government are currently suspended because the US Government has listed the CPP as a foreign terrorist organization.
The exiled leadership lives in the Netherlands.
"Derechos Human Rights, together with our sister organization Equipo Nizkor, work for the respect and promotion of human rights throughout the world."
FIND: Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance
FIND is a member organization of AFAD, "A new coalition gathering organizations that work for the 'disappeared' in several South Asian Countries. It works to coordinate the efforts of the different groups and provide support to all of them."
Gabriela Women's Party
Gabriela Women's Party
"Gabriela Women’s Party is a sectoral party dedicated to promoting the rights and welfare of marginalized and under-represented Filipino women through participation in the country’s electoral system and organs of governance."
Gabriela is also one of three legal partylist groups (along with Anakpawis and Bayan Muna) that have have been singled out for harassment by the AFP. One Gabriela member is serving in the Philippine Congress: Representative Liza Maza.
General Jovito Palparan
Retired Major Gen. Jovito Palparan is the most infamous member of the AFP, even following his retirement in 2006 after a 32-year career. He has been much decorated: first the Medal of Valor in 2004 and then the Distinguished Service Star Award in 2006; but he has also been charged by human rights groups with a long list of violations including summary execution, torture, illegal arrest, arbitrary/unlawful detention, forcible evacuation and displacement. He has been labeled "berdugo” (butcher.) During her State of the Nation Address in July 2006, President Arroyo heaped lavish praises on the general, and upon his retirement in September she appointed him as deputy national security adviser. Palparan was singled out in the recently-released Melo Commission Report for culpability as a significant human rights abuser.
Bulatlat article about Palparan
Human Rights Defenders
Blog maintained by the Cebu chapter of Karapatan, a militant Philippines human rights organization.
Human Rights Defenders
Human Rights First (previously Lawyers Committee for Human Rights)
Human Rights Defenders in the Philippines
"The Philippines, recently elected to the U.N. Human Rights Council, must end the climate of impunity that allows for the abduction and murder of human rights defenders and other activists. The government must investigate and prosecute the alleged perpetrators in each of these cases, using independent fact-finding teams and effective witness protection where needed."
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch's most recent report on the Philippines (June 2007):
IBON is an independent Philippines research think-tank.
Feb 28, 2007 statement: "While it is important to call for the military to stop its denials and propaganda, it is vital to note that the issue goes far beyond the military. The issue should be understood in the context of the NSC and the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The findings of both Alston and the Melo commission are there, but what to do about them?"
Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG)
The Inter-Agency Legal Action Group is a body created in 2006 by the Arroyo Government to wage a "legal offensive" against opponents of the Philippine Government. According to the Philippine Information Agency website, the group was "created to complement the military offensive of the government against the communist movement in the Philippines. The move is made to answer the clamor of the military that captured leaders of the communist movement easily get out of jail due to the absence of a warrant of arrest and the help of their lawyers," according to National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales. The IALAG is composed of legal personnel from the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) , Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID) and the Dept. of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Critics accuse the IALAG of bringing trumped-up charges against activists and human rights workers in the Philippines in a transparent campaign to silence them.
Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights)
Karapatan online (old site, not maintained)
Karapatan is an independent and militant Philippine human rights organization. They claim that over 880 people have been 'extrajudicially executed' since the start of the Arroyo Presidency in 2001. The military claims Karapatan exaggerates its findings, and is a front organization controlled by the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Karapatan 2007 Human Rights Report (pdf, 212 Kb)
Melo Commission report (pdf, 920 KB)
The Melo Commission, chaired by retired Supreme Court Justice Jose Melo, was appointed by President Arroyo in August 2006 in response to mounting international protest about the alarming rise in extra-judicial executions in the Philippines.
The Commission completed its initial report in December 2006 without participation from leftist and human rights organizations, who refused to participate on grounds that the Commission was neither independent nor impartial, and because they feared that testifying before the Commission might place their lives in danger.
National Union of Journalists (NUJP)
"The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines is a lateral guild committed to securing the interests of the Filipino working press."
"For the nth time, we call on the Arroyo government to exercise its political will by bringing the killers of journalists – gunmen and masterminds alike – to justice and end the culture of impunity which has allowed these attacks to continue."
Office of the President (Official Press Office of the Philippine President)
Office of the President
February 22, 2007 statement: "After distributing copies of the 86-page (Melo Commission) report to members of the Malacañang Press Corps, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said: 'The President is pained to read the report that some soldiers are involved.' "
Philippine Information Agency (Philippines Government)
Philippine Information Agency
February 21, 2007 statement: "The government is prepared to look into Professor Alston's recommendations and see how these can be dovetailed with the measures already slated by President Arroyo as a result of the Melo Commission Report, such as the strengthening of the witness protection program and the creation of special courts by the Supreme Court."
Philippine National Police (PNP)
Philippine National Police
Task Force Usig
PNP Task Force Usig was created in May 2006 to investigate "unsolved killings" of militant group members, journalists and government officials. The task force counts 115 murders and says most of these are the result of an internal purge by communist rebels. Critics accuse the task force of being more interested in covering up government culpability in the killings than going after the perpetrators; and of downplaying the extent of the problem by presenting low numbers (Karapatan counts 830 murders.)
Task Force Usig Update November 2006
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
"The Task Force Detainees of the Philippines is a non-profit, national human rights organization concerned with documenting human rights violations, assisting the victims and their families in their material and legal needs, and conducting human rights education work."
United Nations Human Rights Council
The United Nations Human Rights Council is an international body with a stated purpose to address human rights violations. The Council is the successor to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, often criticised for the high-profile positions it gave to member states that did not guarantee the human rights of their own citizens.
UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston
Project on Extra-Judicial Executions
The United Nations sent Special Rapporteur Philip Alston in February 2007 on a mission to investigate the alarming rise in extra-judicial executions in the Philippines. His preliminary statement fingered the Armed Forces of the Philippines as probable culprits in most of the murders. His Final Report issued in November 2007 reinforced and expanded upon that finding.
Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (pdf, 334 KB)
US State Department
US State Department
The US State Department's 2006 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in the Philippines acknowledges that "Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces; however, some elements of these security forces committed human rights abuses."
2006 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in the Philippines
US Embassy, Manila Kristie A. Kenney, Ambassador