BAGUIO CITY (Dec. 23) – A human rights watchdog in the Cordillera claimed that the Task Force Usig of the Philippine National Police conducted an investigation on the killing of peasant leader Jose Doton at the PNP headquarter in San Nicolas, Pangasinan on December 22.
The investigation on the Doton case is to be conducted upon the order of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who is allegedly being pressured by the Japanese government and various non-government to solve the killing before the release of billions of pesos for an irrigation project related with the San Roque Dam Project, shared Imelda Tabiando, deputy secretary-general of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA).
The move of GMA is allegedly to show that she is concerned with the political killings, particularly the killing of Doton, secretary-general of Timmawa or Tignay dagiti Mannalon a Mangwaya-waya ti Agno, a peasant alliance in Pangasinan and Benguet that opposes the San Roque Dam project, added Tabiando in a press conference on Tuesday, December 19, here.
The irrigation project is worth P 8.2 billion where 75% of it will be funded by the Japanese government through its overseas development aid, according to the Friends of the Earth in Japan (FoE Japan). Only 25% is believed to be the counterpart of the government.
“Friends of the Earth – Japan learned that Doton was shot dead on May 16 because he had been engaged in campaigns against the Japanese-funded project, namely the San Roque Multi-purpose Project,” stated Naomi Kanzaki, Development Finance and Environment Program Officer of FoE Japan, in its press release dated December 19.
Kanzaki added that their Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs took their position and expressed their strong concerns on the political killings when they visited the Philippines last December 8 and 9. It was from this meeting that the Japanese officials urged GMA to address the killings, including that of Doton, before they release the fund.
The NGOs on December 7 submitted a petition, signed by 1,325 Japanese, which urged GMA to take measures on the political killings.
They also urged the Philippine government to disband any “death squads,” private armies, vigilantes, criminal gangs and paramilitary forces operating outside the chain of command but with official support; to ensure that all complaints and reports of political killings are investigated promptly, impartially and effectively; to ensure that those responsible for political killings are brought to justice in accordance with international standards.
Aside from the FoE Japan, the other Japanese NGOs included the Amnesty International Japan, Campaign for Future of Filipino Children (CFFC), Citizens’ Group to review the “50th Anniversary of the Philippines and Japan Friendship”, National Christian Council in Japan, and WAYAWAYA. # Arthur L. Allad-iw for NORDIS