US, RP officials meet on offer of help in solving political slays

Published by reposted only Date posted on March 1, 2007

US Embassy officials met with the Task Force Usig on Wednesday and discussed the US government’s offer of assistance to find a solution to political killings.

At a conference with the task force led by Chief Supt. Geary Barias, US Embassy representatives Scot Marciel and Scott Pelart discussed details of possible areas of cooperation in solving cases of murdered activists and journalists in the country.

“On instructions of the DILG [interior department] Secretary Ronaldo Puno, and chief PNP [National Police], Director General Oscar Calderon, the PNP will form a committee that will study the possible areas of cooperation and assistance where the offer of the US government will fit in,” Barias said in a news conference at Camp Crame, Quezon City.

On Tuesday, US Ambassador Kirstie Kenney urged the government to pursue the investigation on the killings of militant personalities and journalists as a gesture of sincerity in resolving them.

Kenney refused to comment on the observation of United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston that the government was “in a state of denial” on the issue of unsolved killings into activists and media personalities.

Kenney stressed the need for a continuous follow-up on the investigation into the murder cases.

Barias said US assistance may come as exchange of intelligence and technical facilities, particularly in the forensic examination of the victims’ remains.

Technical assistance, he added, may also involve advance finger- printing analysis to help identify the perpetrators.

“Certainly, this offer of the US Embassy for assistance will serve as a capacity-building measure and boost the efforts of Task Force Usig to investigate and prosecute cases,” Barias said

Relatedly, House Minority Leader Francis “Chiz” Escudero on Wednesday dared the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to accept the offer of help from the US government to solve extrajudicial killings, saying such a move will dispel suspicion that the death squads that conducted the assassinations, involving mostly leftist militants as victims, are under its employ.

According to Escudero, the US military justice system is replete with examples of court-martials and convictions of officers and soldiers who commit unacceptable military conduct, from Lt. William Calley, leader of a platoon that killed hundreds of old men, women, children and babies in My Lai, Vietnam, to Sgt. Paul Cortez, member of an airborne division, who along with four other soldiers raped and murdered a 14-year-old girl in Iraq.

But Escudero doubted that anything good could come out of the offer, saying the AFP has become notorious for stonewalling the issue instead of doing something about it.

He dismissed claims by the military that the extrajudicial executions were the handiwork of leftist groups.

“The military does not even make an attempt to supply evidence to support the allegations.” He also chided Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr., who called the crimes mysterious killings, not extrajudicial executions.–Fernan Marasigan, BusinessMirror

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