MANILA - President Benigno Aquino defended his administration's record in dealing with extrajudicial killings during his joint press conference with US President Barack Obama on Monday.
Aquino was asked by foreign media about the 26 journalists who have been killed since he took office, of which only 6 cases have seen arrests.
Aquino replied, "We did set up an inter-agency committee to look on extra-legal killings and forced disappearances, torture and other grave violations of right to life, liberty and security of persons."
"I have the figures for the labor-related issues, there were 62 suspected cases of extrajudicial killings and referred to it. And of the 62 after the investigation of by this committee, there have been 10 that have been determined to fulfill the criteria, the definitions of what constitutes an extrajudicial killing,” he said.
Aquino said that of the 10 cases that have been determined to be possible extrajudicial killings, “only one happened during our watch, the case of MR. (Rodel) Estrellado."
As for journalists’ killings, Aquino said more than 100 accused are already undergoing trial for the Maguindanao massacre, where many journalists were killed. "Presently, something like over 100 people who have been indicted for this crime and who are undergoing trial."
"That doesn’t mean that we have stopped trying to look for others potentially involved in this particular killing and may we just state for the record that even when it comes to journalist, it is not a policy of this state to silent critics, all you have to do will be to turn on the TV, the radio or look at any newspaper to find an abundance of criticisms," he said.
The Maguindanao massacre occurred during the Arroyo administration.
According to the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, 140 Filipino journalists have been killed for their work since 1986.
Only 13 cases have had convictions.
The CMFR said 22 journalists have been killed in the line of work during the Aquino administration. It said 14 other journalists were killed outside their line of work during the same period.
Aquino, meanwhile, explained that if at times government does not reveal the discoveries by intelligence agencies and security services, “perhaps we are very sensitive to personal relationships by the people who were deceased, who were killed not because of professional activities but shall we say other issues."
"But having said that, they were killed, that is against the law, the people will have to be found, prosecuted and sent to jail," he said.
The Philippines had been named as one of the most dangerous places for journalists in the world.