03/27/2007, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Both army and armed insurgents guilty of political killings, says Card Rosales

The archbishop of Manila tells population that it is necessary to convince government troops and Communist rebels that killing is wrong. He urges parties to the conflict to change their mindset as the only way of breaking the cycle of violence that grips the country.

Manila (AsiaNews) – In a letter to the main newspapers of the Philippines, Mgr Gaudencio Rosales, Archbishop of Manila, called on both the military and armed insurgents to stop political killings, saying that both sides are equally to blame for the ongoing slaughter.

“Unfortunately, it is very bad. The military kills, so do the insurgents. The government should be castigated for the killings, so should our brothers in the mountains. These killings should stop,” Cardinal Rosales said.

The prelate was speaking about a series of unresolved murders that have shaken the country in the last few years, including the death of soldiers and army officers as well as Communist insurgents that have not been independently investigated.

For Cardinal Rosales, the only way out is a change of mindset on all sides involved in the conflict.

“We must do what is necessary and tell the truth to those who are wrong. Our brothers in the mountains (the rebels) and to the government must understand that killing is wrong,” he said.

The government, currently led by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, has denied any involvement in extra-judicial killings. To prove its innocence it has launched various campaigns to stop them, going so far as to ask the European Union for help. An EU investigation team should in fact arrive to shed light on the matter.

For Archbishop Rosales, however tragic the current situation is, it is still a far cry from the seventies when President Ferdinand Marcos imposed martial law and ruled as a dictator for nine years. “It is not possible or fair to compare the two situations,” he explained.

According to Karapatan, the foremost human rights alliance in the Philippines, about 800 people—military, rebels and human rights activists—have died in the last five years; another 200 have disappeared.

Maoist insurgents who have been fighting for the independence of the southern Philippines in the past 38 years have been included by the European Union and the United States in their lists of terrorist groups.

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