In the Philippines, hundreds of social activists and human rights defenders have beenunlawfully killed as well as subjected to enforced disappearances since the ArroyoAdministration came into power. Human Rights Now (HRN), a Tokyo-based internationalhuman rights NGO, conducted an investigation of extrajudicial killings and enforceddisappearances in the Philippines on April 14-21, 2007.The fact-finding mission conducted interviews concerning 15 cases of extrajudicialkillings (involving 33 victims) and three cases of forced disappearances (involving 9 victims).Additionally, the team conducted interviews to understand the background to the series of human rights violations.In most of the cases investigated, the HRN fact-finding team found that the killings,disappearances, and tortures could be attributed to or could most likely be attributed to themilitary or police forces of the Philippines.First, among the cases the fact-finding team investigated, in 8 out of 15 cases of extrajudicial killings, the witnesses identified the perpetrators as elements of the AFP orbelonging to the CAFGU, the army or paramilitary organization under the control of the army.
In two of the three forced disappearance cases, witness and released victims clearly testifiedabout the military’s involvement.Second, all extrajudicial cases have several patterns in common with other cases, suchas: (a ) the victims are limited to certain groups, (b) victims were condemned by thegovernment or AFP as “enemy of state” or NPA front, (c) victims were publicly exposing thehuman rights violations allegedly committed by the AFP, (d) victims were harassed,threatened with death, encouraged by the military to stop their leftist activity, or underpersistent surveillance. The team detailed its finding in the report.In terms of the number of killings, we recognize that more evaluation and clarification isnecessary to determine the exact number. What is important to note is that a number of extrajudicial killings were indeed committed by state agencies.HRN has grave concerns about the characteristics of the targeted victims in these killings.In the cases we investigated, the victims include highly respected lawyers, human rightsactivists, union leaders, a church bishop, a city councilor and left-wing activists. Most of thevictims were advocates for the rights of ordinary citizens. Such killings perpetuate fearamong the people and have a chilling effect on the society as a whole. It undermines freedomof expression, and ultimately, democracy in society.HRN also has grave concerned that despite the facts stated above, perpetrators within thegovernment have not been brought to justice and human rights violators are enjoying2