All three branches of the government are joining hands to come up with solutions to put an end to senseless killings.
Sponsored by the Supreme Court, the National Consultative Summit on Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances â€“ Searching for Solutions will be held on July 16-17, 2007 at the Manila Hotel.
Representatives from the Executive and Legislative departments, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, and the Commission on Human Rights, media, academe, civil society, and other stakeholders will be among the participants in the two-day summit. Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno will give the keynote speech and closing remarks.
The Summit is aimed at searching for wholistic solutions and providing inputs to the SC in its objective of enhancing existing rules, or promulgating new ones, in the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, including the protection of the witnesses. Likewise, it aims to examine the concept of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances pursuant to the standards provided for by local and international laws, including United Nations instruments.
Moreover, the Summit also aims to revisit the rules of evidence and to explore more remedies for the aggrieved parties aside from the writ of habeas corpus.
During the first day of the Summit, the invited speakers will present their respective papers comprising significant inputs from their respective sectors.
On the second day, the participants will break out into 12 groups and take part in a workshop. Each breakout group will be chaired by a Supreme Court Associate Justice.
Local and international observers will be accredited. They will include members of the diplomatic corps and representatives from various international organizations.
The Summit highlight will be a plenary session where each of the 12 groups shall report to the body their recommended resolutions. The reports and proposals will be synthesized and then transmitted to the concerned government agencies for appropriate action.
Last March, the SC designated about a hundred Regional Trial Courts (RTCs) nationwide to hear, try, and decide cases involving killings of judges, political activists, and members of the media.
A total of 23 RTCs have been designated Special Courts in the National Judicial Capital Region (NCJR), while a total of 76 RTCs in the 12 Judicial Regions were likewise designated as Special Courts.
Chief Justice Puno has said that the creation of Special Courts to resolve extrajudicial killings is high on the Judiciaryâ€™s priority list. He made the announcement even before MalacaÃ±ang made public the findings of the Independent Commission to Address Media and Activists Killings, headed by retired SC Justice Jose Melo, confirming the extrajudicial killings of political activists and members of the media.
â€œThe first and foremost of human rights is the right to life. It has long been accorded universal status for the existence of all other rights is premised on the preservation of life. The extrajudicial taking of life is the ultimate violation of human rights. It cannot be allowed anywhere, and it has to be resisted everywhereâ€¦Extrajudicial killings also constitute brazen assaults on the rule of law. It is the constitutional duty of our judiciary to protect the rule of law and we will link with all efforts to prevent its erosion,â€ said Chief Justice Puno. –Jay B. Rempillo, Supreme Court PIO