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Commentary :: Human Rights : International : Media : Social Welfare : War and Militarism
On the Philippine hostage taking incident
26 Aug 2010
Akbayan (Citizens Action Party) on the the Ill-fated Hostage Taking Incident at the Quirino Grandstand and the Necessary Reformation of the Police Force
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Together with the Filipino people, Akbayan party condemns in the strongest terms possible the ill-fated hostage-taking incident perpetuated by a former Philippine National Police officer at the Quirino Granstand which caused the death of 11 tourist hostages. We join the nation as we mourn their tragic deaths and as we offer our deepest condolences to the families of the victims as well as to the Hong Kong community, which is closely monitoring the developments of this horrific incident.

Truly, this is a sad day for us as a country and as a people. Beyond the shame to our national pride and image in the eyes of the international community, the act is reprehensible and heartbreaking as it resulted in the loss of innocent lives. There is no reason in the world that could be used to justify such brutal act of lawlessness and violence.

However, while we strongly denounce this heinous act of violence against innocent people, we call for sobriety and clarity. Let us not further clutter the issue by joining those that want to use this incident to cause further chaos and confusion or moreover, by those that will immediately benefit from such, as they wash their hands of any culpability and negligence with regards to the hostage incident.

Hence, we call on President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jessie Robredo to immediately call for a swift, comprehensive and impartial investigation of the incident. We call on the Philippine National Police Chief Director General Jesus Verzosa to exercise due discretion and judiciousness by putting all police personnel involved in the assault in preventive suspension so as not to interfere in whatever way in the investigation of the case.

Furthermore, we call on the government to comprehensively review the country’s security program with the end view of implementing significant reforms that will fully professionalize our security forces particularly our national police. The recent hostage-taking event and how it was handled together with the recent controversy surrounding the reported cases of torture as practiced by alleged members of the police must be seen as grave consequences of how our police system works, or is not working.

The government can start this process in the immediate, by enhancing police accountability, and in the strategic, by implementing institutional reforms... This must be done in partnership with the local government, the Department of Justice, the Commission on Human Rights and other active stakeholders to achieve concrete changes not only in terms of professionalism, responsiveness and accountability but also of its respect, protection and promotion of human rights to its constituents.

Lastly, we call on the media and the police sector to establish clear and professional guidelines on how to harmonize their functions as they perform their respective roles. We believe, despite clashing institutional goals and values, they are mutually dependent and must cooperate to inform the public and hold government accountable over security policies.

24 August 2010

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