PROVISION IN “ANTI-SALVAGING BILL” COULD BE USED TO HARASS LOCAL EXECUTIVES – BINAY

PRESS RELEASE
JULY 30, 2009
REF: JOEY SALGADO

Makati Mayor and United Opposition (UNO) president Jejomar C. Binay today said he has no disagreement with a bill that would make extrajudicial killings a heinous crime but feels that authorities could use as a “tool for political harassment” a provision that penalizes public officers with preventive suspension if charged with inaction on salvaging cases.

Under House Bill 6601, public officers can be suspended for 120 days without hearing if charged with neglect or inaction on extra-judicial cases in their respective areas.

“We would have appreciated the bill more had it been filed earlier and approved by Congress earlier. It could have served as a deterrent to the extra-judicial killings under the administration of Mrs. Arroyo,” he said.

Binay said the human rights group Karapatan had recorded 1,013 cases of summary executions since Mrs. Arroyo came to power in 2001.

The opposition leader said he hopes the bill is not intended to get back at political opponents.

“I sincerely hope that the intention is to sincerely stop the incidents of summary executions under this administration, and not to get back at political opponents. I am hopeful that personal and political animosity has not tainted the intent of the law,” he said.

Binay said in the hands of a vindictive national government, the provision provides an excuse to suspend local executives, especially those who are in the opposition.

“It would not be far-fetched that summary executions could be committed by precisely the same persons who want to go after a local executive who belongs to the other camp or is considered part of the opposition,” he said.

House Bill 6601 filed by Speaker Prospero Nograles seeks to make “salvaging or extra-judicial killing by any public officer, person in authority or agent of a person in authority” a heinous crime, and imposes the maximum penalty provided by law.

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