Panel on EJKs looking into more than 1.5k cases linked to 'communist terror groups'

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Panel on EJKs looking into more than 1.5k cases linked to 'communist terror groups'
This file photo shows the Department of Justice office.
Philstar.com / File

MANILA, Philippines — The government’s task force on politically-motivated killings is looking into more than 1,500 alleged violations of International Humanitarian Law by communist terrorist groups, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.

The DOJ secretary confirmed the post of the Administrative Order 35 Secretariat on Facebook over the weekend. Guevarra told reporters Monday: “These cases have just been recently endorsed by the AO 35 committee by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. We are currently going over the files.”

Assistant State Prosecutor Gino Paolo Santiago, head of the AO35 Secretariat, said in a separate statement that “violations consisted mainly of attacks on civilian properties, willful killing of civilians/non-combatants, children involved in armed conflict, and use of anti-personnel mines.”

The AFP’s report to the AO Secretariat covered incidents from 2010 to 2020, Santiago also said, adding that the Technical Working Group has already started to look into reports from the regions of Bicol, Central Visayas and Eastern Visayas.

For the review, the TWG coordinated with the Commission on Human Rights and regional and provincial officers of the AFP and the Philippine National Police.

Santiago added that the review will continue until the end of November, with focus on incidents in Calabarzon, Mimaropa and Western Visayas regions. Reports on other regions will begin next year.

It is still unclear which groups are being accused of committing IHL violations, but CTG is the government label for the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front.

AO 35

AO 35, issued in 2012, created the Inter-agency Committee on Extra-legal Killings, Enforced Disappearance, Torture and Other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons,

Among the tasks of the AO35’s Inter-agency Committee is the “inventory of all cases of extra-legal killings, enforced disappearances, torture other grave violations of the right to life, liberty and security of persons perpetrated by both state and non-state agents, from all government offices as well as non-government sources (independent and non-partisan international and national human rights organizations and groups).”

The AO35 is also looking into killings of peace consultants and activists, including victims in the Bloody Sunday raids in three Calabarzon provinces in March.

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