A REGIONAL human rights organization said responsibility for the extrajudicial killings that have plagued the country over the last five years lies mainly with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
At the same time, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) criticized Arroyo for making ?hardly any indication of any practical measures that the President will take in order to stop these killings? in her State of the Nation Address (SONA) Monday.
The group is the latest to accuse Arroyo of glossing over the extrajudicial killings that local human rights organizations say have claimed the lives of more than 700 activists, journalists and other civilians since she came to power in 2001.
Militant groups and lawmakers have slammed Arroyo for condemning political killings while at the same time heaping praises on controversial Army Major General Jovito Palparan who they blame for many of the civilian deaths.
They have also warned that extrajudicial killings can only intensify with Arroyo?s declaration of an ?all-out war? against communist rebels since many of the groups whose members have been victimized have been openly tagged by the government and military as ?front organizations? of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
The AHRC said anger over the killings, both here and abroad, ?required a far greater resolute response on the part of? Arroyo but that her statement ?does not reflect a resoluteness to discharge her obligations regarding this very serious matter.?
?Extrajudicial killings can happen only with her direct or indirect approval or by military or other forces acting directly contrary to her orders,? it said.
And while the cooperation of witnesses, whom Arroyo challenged to come forward in her SONA, ?is necessary to achieve such a stop to the killings, the primary responsibility for this lies entirely (with) the state? and the President, the AHRC said.
It urged Arroyo ?to give a clear message to the military to stop all extrajudicial killings and an equally strong message to the prosecutors to take all possible actions to prosecute the offenders.?
?The nation deserves such a call to come from the President and the international community must pursue this matter strongly with the government of the Philippines,? it added.
The AHRC also urged people to ?engage in active protests until this heinous practice is stopped in the Philippines.?
It suggested ?peaceful and dignified protests? such as ?prayer meetings and other solidarity actions both in the country and outside.?
The AHRC noted that among those who have condemned the continued killings are Papal Nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Fernando Filoni, and the Catholic Bishops? Conference of the Philippines
In a recent statement, Filoni said it would ?truly be a contradiction, if on the one hand, we practically abolished the death penalty and yet, on the other hand, we are not respecting or implementing the rights of the human race.?
The CBCP, in its pastoral statement earlier this month, said the bishops joined ?the outcry of groups that have denounced the increasing number of extra-judicial killings of journalists and social activists suspected as sympathizers of insurgents allegedly by some ultra-rightist elements in the military.?
In the same statement, the CBCP also criticized killings committed by communist rebels.