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Militant group accuses government of rights abuses
First posted 08:18pm (Mla time) Dec 02, 2005
A HUMAN rights group accused Friday the government of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of using political killings to eliminate its opponents and maintain power.
Rights group Karapatan said 2005 was one of the worst years for human rights abuses in the Philippines since the days of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was ousted in 1986.
In its "Human Rights Report 2005", the non-governmental organization accused the Arroyo administration of the "wanton use of repression and state terror" to stay in power.
Karapatan, a left-leaning group opposed to Arroyo, said it had documented 874 cases of rights violations against 99,011 individuals across the country between January and November 30.
The release of its report comes a day after the murder of journalist George Benaojan, 27, who was gunned down in the central island of Cebu on Thursday.
He became the 10th journalist to have been murdered in the Philippines this year and the 73rd journalist murdered in the country since democracy was restored following the overthrow of Marcos.
Karapatan secretary general Marie Hilao-Enriquez said the number of political killings of journalists, lawyers, human rights defenders and community leaders "surpasses that of any regime after Martial Law".
"The number of cases of political killings increased by more than 100 percent compared to the 63 victims in 2004," the report said.
"Of the 150 victims of political killings, 80 were confirmed activists critical of the Arroyo regime.
"The remaining 68 were not known to be affiliated with any political party or organization but were suspected by the military to be sympathizers, supporters, friends or relatives of Communist or Muslim rebels."
The group also cited the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, which says 36 journalists have been murdered since Arroyo came to power in 2001.
"In almost all cases of political assassinations and extrajudicial killings, military elements and or paramilitary death squads and vigilante groups were the primary suspects. To date, none of the killings under the Arroyo regime has been solved," Enriquez said.
The government could not immediately be contacted for comment, but it has previously said such charges are overblown, often by leftist groups with ties to communist guerrillas.