Philippine leader 'fails in human rights vow'

Philippine President Benigno Aquino has failed to deliver on campaign pledges to prosecute members of the security forces implicated in killings and disappearances, Human Rights Watch said Monday.

The New York-based rights monitor said it had documented seven cases of extra-judicial killings and three cases of disappearances, all with evidence pointing to military involvement, since Aquino took office in 2010.

But there had been no punishment or prosecution in any of the cases, it said in a statement.

"The administration... has failed to take significant measures to prosecute members of the military, police and militias implicated in extra-judicial killings, torture and enforced disappearances," HRW said.

Loretta Rosales, head of the government's Commission on Human Rights, said she agreed with many of the US group's complaints.

"At this point in time, we have a lot of lip service. People are not convinced and I don't blame them," she said in an interview on ABS-CBN television.

"There is no effective reduction (of abuses)," Rosales added.

Just four cases of extra-judicial killings have been successfully prosecuted since 2008, all under Aquino's predecessor Gloria Arroyo, said Elaine Pearson, deputy director of HRW's Asia division.

"It is very disappointing. The rhetoric, particularly from the president, was that he really wanted to see the perpetrators of these types of abuses punished," Pearson said on ABS-CBN.

Aquino, the son of two pro-democracy heroes, was elected president in 2010 with a promise to curb rights abuses, including the high-profile killing of 57 people allegedly by a powerful political clan in November 2009.

But the government, battling communist rebels, Muslim separatists and extremists linked to Al-Qaeda, remains dogged by complaints of abuses in its counter-insurgency campaigns.


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