Palace orders probe of torture raps vs military

July 1, 2009 9:11 am 

MANILA, July 1 — Malacañang has called for an immediate probe into the abduction and torture case filed against the military by a Filipino-American activist before the Supreme Court.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita disclosed in his weekly media briefing today that he has requested Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro to order the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to immediately conduct a thorough investigation in the abduction and torture case filed by a certain Melissa Roxas.

The accusation, he said, is a big blow to the government’s progress in the promotion and protection of human rights in the country

“That is why we are looking at it immediately because I am the Chairman of the Presidential Human rights Committee,” he said, adding that he is still waiting for the result of the initial investigation ordered by the DND.

Ermita hailed Prof. Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, for recognizing the Philippine government’s promotion and protection of human rights in his follow-up report before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Ermita said that Alston, in his oral statement before the United Nations body, clearly acknowledged that the number of unexplained killings in the Philippines “has fallen dramatically by 70 percent” since 2007.

The decrease, he noted, was largely due to government efforts that include increased funding for the witness protection program, hiring of more prosecutors, and establishment of separate courts to expedite prosecutions of cases involving human rights violations and extra-judicial killings.

Last April, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed the Instrument of Ratification for the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture to strengthen the country’s compliance with international human rights instruments since the Philippines is a current member of the UN Human Rights Council and has been a State Party to the Convention against Torture and Cruel and Unusual Punishment (CAT) since June 18, 1986. (PNA)



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