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IN THE KNOW: Past special bodies

/ 12:38 AM July 11, 2016
   PHOTO BY REM ZAMORA/INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

PHOTO BY REM ZAMORA/INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

PAST administrations had created special bodies to deal with journalist and extrajudicial killings and speed up investigation.

On Nov. 22, 2012, then President Benigno Aquino III signed Administrative Order No. 35, which created a nine-member “Inter-Agency Committee on Extra-Legal Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture and Other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons.”

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The superbody, which was formed to look into old and new cases, was formed on the eve of the third anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre, considered the worst electoral violence in Philippine history, killing 58 people, 32 of them journalists.

The order provided that priority would be given to cases committed under the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

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Headed by the secretary of justice, the committee included the chair of the Presidential Human Rights Committee, the secretaries of the interior and local government and of national defense, the presidential adviser on the peace process, the presidential adviser for political affairs, the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the chief of the Philippine National Police and the director of the National Bureau of Investigation.

Serving as observers and resource persons to the committee were the chair of the Commission on Human Rights and the Office of the Ombudsman.

The order replaced Administrative Order No. 211 signed by Arroyo in November 2007 to create Task Force Against Political Violence, also known as Task Force 211. The body headed by then Justice Undersecretary Ric Blancaflor was tasked with investigating, prosecuting and preventing cases of extrajudicial and other political killings, especially of leftist activists.

On Aug. 1, 2006, Arroyo created the Philippine National Police Task Force Usig, a special body set up to solve within 10 weeks 10 journalist and activist killings. But it went on with its work beyond its deadline and coordinated with Task Force 211 in its own probe.

In the same month, under international pressure, Arroyo created a four-member commission under former Supreme Court Associate Justice Jose Melo to look into the killings of journalists and activists since 2001.

Monitoring by Inquirer Research showed that of the more than 200 journalists killed since 1986, 107 were killed under the Arroyo administration, including the Maguindanao massacre victims, while 41 were killed during the time of Aquino. Inquirer Research

Sources: Inquirer Archives, Human Rights Watch website

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