Moro group says gov?t hiding real HR situation from UN

The group cited the government's refusal to give a copy of the Melo Commission Report to a visiting UN Rapporteur Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions.

Professor Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur, was scheduled to be in Davao City on Saturday for a meeting with human rights groups and government and military officials.

Amirah Ali Lidasan, Suara Bangsamoro vice chairperson, said in a statement that the government has “many skeletons in their closet and would want to keep them from Prof. Alston's knowledge.”

Ms Lidasan said President Arroyo and her national security advisers are afraid to reveal the findings of the commission.

She also noted Ms Arroyo’s effort to absolve retired Army Major General Jovito Palparan, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Philippine National Police of culpability for hundreds of cases of extrajudicial killings that have occurred since 2001.

“Because of this, the victims and their families have doubts that justice will prevail under the Arroyo administration,” she said.

Arroyo created in 2006 the Melo Commission, led by retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Jose Melo, to investigate the killings of journalists and activists.

Around 40 percent of the killings reportedly took place in Mindanao, a ‘hotbed’ of communist-led and Moro rebellions.

Relatives of the victims of extrajudicial killings of Moro inmates in Camp Bagong Diwa last March 15, 2005 will travel all the way from Basilan just to present their case to Mr. Alston.

Mrs. Jumdatul Mundi's son Gaffar Mundi was one of the 23 inmates killed in Camp Bagong Diwa as a consequence of General Angelo Reyes' no negotiation policy in dealing with the jail uprising staged by suspected Abu Sayyaf suspects.

"When the mother of Gaffar Mundi heard about the coming of Prof. Alston, it gave her hope that it will be a big help in her pursuit of justice for the death of her son," said Ms Lidasan.

It was reported that it took Mrs. Mundi four years to fight for her son's release from Camp Bagong Diwa prison and two years to seek justice for the death of her son.

Radio commentator Alberto Martinez, who survived a slay attempt in April 2005 in Kabacan, North Cotabato, will also present his case.

Relatives of slain journalists and couple George and Macel Vigo will also have a chance to meet with Mr. Alston.

The Vigos, both block time journalists at radio station DXND, were killed in June 2006.

Eleven of the 23 inmates killed in Camp Bagong Diwa were said to be victims of illegal arrest and detention and had pending cases of torture against General Hermogenes Esperon, then chief of 103rd IB in Basilan, the unit that arrested them on July 13, 2001.

Esperon is currently chief of staff of the armed forces.

The Commission on Human Rights investigated the Camp Bagong Diwa incident. Its findings concluded the PNP and Secretary Reyes could be held culpable for extrajudicial killings.

“Until now, Secretary Raul Gonzales of the Department of Justice continues to disregard the Commission on Human Rights report,” Ms Lidasan said.