Philippine's human rights commission brands provincial capitol assault 'Overkill'

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Philippine human rights commission (CHR) together with various local government officials branded "overkill" the police assault on the Iloilo provincial capitol on Wednesday.

In an attempt to arrest Governor Niel Tupas, Sr. and seize control of the capitol, hundreds of policemen armed with M-16 rifles stormed the capitol, smashed glass doors and destroyed padlocked iron gates. The rifles were pointed at civilians.

In a television interview, CHR Chairman Purificacion Quisumbing called the act "frightening".

Quisumbing was worried that it would turn out bloody had the shots been fired. She was "shocked to see policemen going into a public building with assault rifles in a manner not consonant with the picture we are trying to portray of a peaceful country of law-abiding citizens.”

"If this can happen in broad daylight to an elected official and (before) the media, (how much) more at night in the barrios?" she said.

The assault was stopped by a 60-day temporary restraining order against the enforcement of the dismissal order.

But Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Ronaldo Puno defended the police and proposed a joint investigation with CHR on the matter.

"The policemen ... should not be condemned. They should even be commended," Puno said.

An initial assessment prompted Quisumbing to declare that the police committed human rights violations. She also indicated in a television interview that CHR would look into the matter independently, thereby rejecting DILG's proposal for a joint probe.

She was quoted as saying “we define our independent investigation as one where we ourselves have to examine the facts and the circumstances.”

Quisumbing also noted that a joint investigation with DILG would be in conflict CHR's mandate and function.