02/21/2007, 00.00
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Killing of journalists and activists part of gang warfare

An anonymous Catholic source in the Philippines tells AsiaNews about UN criticism of the government and the army over the rising number of extra-judicial killings. It also stresses how the local press has become an unethical instrument of “dirty and corrupt politics”. President Arroyo will address the nation tomorrow.

Manila (AsiaNews) – What is happening in the Philippines is turning into “gang warfare in which journalists and activists are part and parcel of increasingly dirty and corrupt politics. No wonder then that the number of extra-judicial murder is rising as factions settle their score,” this according to a local Catholic source, who also spoke to AsiaNews on condition of anonymity for security reason about statements made by the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Philip Alston on the rising number of killings in the country.

Alston, the source said, has called on the government to “condemn extra-judicial killings that increasingly involve those working in the media and social activism. In his view the Filipino military appears to have been responsible for many of a great many extra-judicial killings as both instigator and executor.”

In her response Filipino President Arroyo confirmed that she would address the nation tomorrow to discuss the situation, making public the findings of the Melo Commission and the role of the state and the armed forces.

The murders, the source noted, “must be condemned because violence leads nowhere but it is necessary to understand how we got to the present situation. Since 2001 830 people are said to have been assassinated. That is an impressive number but not all the victims were innocent bystanders interested in shedding light on uncomfortable truths as it might appear from the outside.”

The reality “is quite different. The press, i.e. the local press, has become a tool in the hands of political factions or gangs tied to gambling interests. It is used to discredit or heap praise on candidates, proposals and actions in our territory. Many of them have no scruples and use the means at their disposal to reach their goals without ethics or morality.”

In light of all this, “is it any wonder that they like any adversary they are eliminated. I repeat. Violence and, if it is demonstrated, the army’s involvement must be condemned without any reservations. But we must also understand the real facts.”

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