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08 SEPTEMBER 2008
PHILIPPINE POLICE PURSUE 209 SUSPECTS IN EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLINGS
MANILA--An interim body of the Philippine National Police looking into the cases of unexplained killings is now pursuing 209 suspects involved in the murders of political activists and journalists since 2001.
Quoting from a report by the Task Force Usig to Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Brian Raymund Yamsuan on Sunday noted that of these suspects, 164 were involved in the killings of political activists, while 47 are connected to the slayings of journalists.
The report prepared by Police Director Jefferson Soriano, the head of Task Force Usig, pointed out that 64 cases were already filed against the suspects in the murders of activists, while 13 suspects were arrested with 1 conviction, 7 were killed, and 3 surrendered.
Out of the 164 suspects still at large, 26 suspects had warrant of arrest, said Soriano in the report.
In the cases of slain journalists, 24 cases were filed, while 16 were arrested, 10 surrendered, 4 were convicted, and 3 died (2 due to a legitimate armed encounter and 1 due to sickness), he added in the report.
As of August this year, the task force was handling a total of 144 cases, of which 114 involved slain militant party list members and 30 involved media practitioners. Of these cases, 3 were under investigation, 52 were considered cold cases and 1 was dropped and closed.
Cold cases are cases that have had no development or progress on the investigation for more than a year. Cold cases are endorsed to the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) for lateral investigation.
Out of the 114 cases involving slain activists, 64 (56.1 percent) were filed, 2 (1.8 percent) are under investigation, 47 (41.2 percent) are considered cold cases as there had been no development or progress on the investigation for more than a year, and one case (0.9%) was dropped and closed.
"Of these 64 cases filed, 41 were filed in court wherein 1 was settled amicably, 15 are on trial, 17 were archived and 8 were dismissed; and 23 are pending at the prosecutor's office, wherein 9 are undergoing preliminary investigation and 14 were provisionally dismissed," the report noted.
In the cases of media-related killings, a total of 30 media practitioners were slain because of work-related circumstances since 2001, of which 24 cases were filed in court, 1 is under investigation and 5 are considered cold cases.
Of the 24 cases filed, 22 were already filed in court, wherein 17 are on trial, 2 were resolved with the suspects' conviction and 3 were dismissed, said the report. Two cases under preliminary investigation pending at prosecutor's office, it added.
As of May 2007, the militant group Karapatan has claimed a running total of 836 slain militant party list members / leftist activists and media practitioners.
Out of this total, Yamsuan said that 121 are included in the Task Force Usig List while 667 are deemed excluded because they do not fall under its mandate, while the remaining 48 cases are still undergoing verification.
The excluded cases were purged by the task force from its list because they involved either false reports; non-existent persons as certified by barangays and local civil registrars; alleged victims who turned out to be alive; legitimate armed encounters; agrarian or labor disputes; personal motives or suicides.
Other cases were also excluded from the task force's list because they
involved civilians killed by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New
People's Army, by the lost command of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or
by vigilante groups; or were triggered by private motives connected with
illegal drugs, gambling, squatting, illegal logging, mistaken identity,
robbery with homicide, rape with homicide, tribal war and business
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