PNP accepts U.S. offer on extra-judicial slays

PHILIPPINES NEWS SERVICE — TASK Force Usig head Chief Supt. Geary Barias yesterday said a committee would be formed to study “the possible areas of cooperation and assistance where the offer of the U.S. government in finding solution to cases of extra-judicial killings fit in.”

Barias said they hope to get help on ballistics, fingerprinting and computer knowledge.

He said his staff was due to meet Scott Mariel and Scott Pelart of the U.S. Embassy.

“We are hoping that we can discuss with them the details of the proposal for technical assistance by their government,” he said.

On behalf of the PNP, Barias expressed the gratitude of Task Force Usig to U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney for her offer of assistance in finding solution to cases of slain militants, activists, journalists and some government officials.

“We also appreciate her observation that the Philippine government has come up a serious action plan to address cases of slain journalists and leftist activists,” he said.

On Sunday, Ambassador Kenney offered her government’s help to stop the unresolved extra-judicial killings which have caused embarrassment to the Arroyo administration worldwide.

UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston said the military was responsible for some of the killings. But the military insisted some of the killings were part of a purge in the communist movement.

“On instructions of the DILG Secretary Ronaldo V. Puno, and Chief PNP, Director General Oscar C 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.

Initially, he said the Task Force is looking at further training to enhance the capability of our investigators, and acquisition of equipment to upgrade our existing forensic and investigative capability.

“Certainly, this offer of the U.S. Embassy for assistance will serve as a capacity-building measure and boost the efforts of Task Force USIG to investigate and prosecute cases,” he said.

Task Force Usig’s elated response differ with that of Malacañang’s reaction. In a veiled rebuff of the United States’ offer of help, Malacañang said Wednesday that any international aid with respect to extra-judicial killings would have to be carefully studied first by the administration.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita told reporters that the help being offered by the U.S. was not yet needed at this point.

“At the proper time you will know when such assistance will be sought by the Philippine government and what assistance may be asked,” he was quoted as saying.