Saturday, February 17, 2007

Let the media and the rest of the public decide on the contents and recommendations of the Melo Commission's report on extra-judicial killings

Saturday February 17, 2007

Let the media and the rest of the public decide on the contents and recommendations of the Melo Commission's report on extra-judicial killings

Anakpawis Representative and political detainee Crispin Beltran today said that Malacanang should furnish members of the media copies of the Melo Commission's report on the extra-judicial killings, saying that the media has the right to know.

"Does the document pose a threat to national security? Will its release cause an immediate impact of further weakening the economy? Why is the media – and hence, the general public – being kept in the dark regarding the full contents of the Melo Report? The more Malacanang tries to keep the report under close wraps, the more we will push for the report to be made public," he said. "As guardians of the fourth estate, the media has the right to know and the responsibility to report what is contained in the Melo Commission's official findings. The commission's report has not been classified as top secret, so why is it being treated as such? Has Malacanang embarked on a copy-reading, editing, and re-writing campaign and is in the process of revising the report? "

Some 57 Anakpawis members, coordinators and leaders have been killed since Anakpawis was first established in 2003. Most of those killed come from the peasant and labor sectors.

Beltran said that Malacanang was the one making such a big deal out of the report by keeping it from the media and the rest of the public. He said that the controversy surrounding the Melo Commission's findings and recommendations will not quit and go away so long as human rights organizations and other concerned parties are made aware of its full contents.

"It's difficult to not suspect that Malacanang and its various spin doctors are keeping the report close to their chests as yet because they want to make its contents more favorable to the administration. Otherwise, the report would have been made public as soon as it came out. It's not exactly a document that has severe implications on national security, but perhaps Malacanang is afraid that its content is damning enough to verify and confirm the assertions of human rights groups that the Arroyo government is implementing a state policy on extrajudicial killings against activists and human rights advocates," he said.

"If Malacanang will only release the report to the European Union Commission and the United Nations Human Rights Committee, then it will only confirm the allegation that the Melo Commission was only formed to satisfy the demands of the international community. The families of the victims interviewed by the Melo Commission, for instance, also have the right to know what the commission's conclusions are. They should not be kept in the dark."

The veteran labor leader turned legislator and now political detainee said that the media's right to know should be respected and the Melo Commission's Report be released to them. "Let the members of the media read and interpret the contents of the said document. Let there be an objective reading of the report, and let the public decide."#


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