GMA tells Melo panel to dig deeper

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has directed the Melo Commission to dig deeper into the summary killings of activists and journalists and the groups or interests responsible for these heinous crimes.

The President issued Administrative Order 173, instructing the commission, chaired by retired Supreme Court Justice Jose Melo “to conduct further fact-finding investigation to obtain a fuller picture of the extra-judicial killings referred to in its preliminary report.”

In its report submitted last February, the commission concluded there is circumstantial evidence that some elements within the military or connected to the military were responsible for the summary killings of leftist activists.

“There is some circumstantial evidence that a certain group in the military, certainly not the whole military organization, is responsible for the killings. To maintain otherwise, would be closing one’s eyes to reality,” the commission said.

The fact-finding panel rejected the claim of the Armed Forces and National Police that the extra-judicial killings were perpetrated by the Communist Party of the Philippines- New People’s Army allegedly in pursuit of its policy to purge its ranks of suspected traitors or opportunists.

“While the PNP stated that some of the victims may have been targeted by the CPP-NPA for alleged ‘financial opportunism,’ no clear basis or evidence was presented in that regard,” the commission said.

The Commission noted that the overwhelming majority of the victims were mere students, peasants or laborers and thus were highly unlikely to have committed any financial opportunism.

It said the suspected group in the military has no doubt the capacity or the means to carry out the extra-judicial killings.

In fact, the killings appear to be well-organized and the killers adequately equipped. But more telling is the fact that with the CPP-NPA out of the question, only a group with certain military capabilities can succeed in carrying out an orchestrated plan of eliminating its admitted enemies,” the commission said.

“Its members roam the countryside free from restrictions, pursuant to their all-out war on communism. Their presence in the areas where the killings occurred is undeniable.”

The President said the commission, in submitting its final report, should detail its policy recommendations that will guide the government “in breaking the cycle of violence and preventing its recurrence.”