Opposition Senator Chiz Escudero yesterday called on the government to act on a report of an international watchdog accusing it of failing to solve killings of lawyers and judges in the country.
"We cannot allow this atmosphere of impunity to continue. Talk and task forces have not led to the resolution of most of these unsolved killings," Escudero, chair of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, said.
The report by the Hague-based Lawyers for Lawyers laments the absence of "any sense of urgency" by the Arroyo administration in seeing that "justice is done and the lives and independence of the lawyers and judges involved are protected."
"The administration of justice is undermined when judges and lawyers are killed in the exercise of their profession," he said.
The 39-year old lawyer-senator also condemned the reported inclusion of four human rights lawyers in the military's "order of battle" in Mindanao.
According to news reports, the purported order of battle was released through a power point presentation prepared by the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army in southern Mindanao.
"The leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines should explain if these reports are true. If they are, then they should explain why they are in the list. If they have violated any of our laws, then the proper charges should be filed against them," Escudero said.
"To include them in an order of battle is tantamount to putting them on a virtual hit list," he said.
The power point presentation is allegedly entitled "3rd Quarter 2007 OB Validation Result," and was allegedly prepared by the JCICC "Agila" under the office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence of the 10 Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.
Included in the order of battle are lawyers Angela Librado-Trinidad, Carlos Zarate, Labor Arbiter Beverly Selim-Musni and Lilibeth Ladag, reportedly founding members of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL) and the Union of Peoples Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM).