FEBRUARY 21, 2007 (STAR) Malacañang promised Wednesday that it will study the recommendations made by the United Nations investigator on the political killings in the country.

United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Philip Alston had earlier said the Philippine military was in "almost total denial" about a wave of political murders in the country, many of which he said could be blamed on them.

In response, Press Secretary Ignacio R. Bunye said, "The government is prepared to look into Professor Alston’s recommendations and see how these can be dovetailed with the measures already slated by President (Gloria) Arroyo as a result of the Melo Commission Report, such as the strengthening of the witness protection program and the creation of special courts by the Supreme Court."

"This administration is doing its best to serve the ends of justice and it looks forward to any form of assistance in helping obtain testimony to pin down the guilty," Bunye said.

He added that the Philippines will resolve these killings under its justice system, supported by well-meaning partnerships with the UN, the EU and other allies for justice and democracy.

"We hope that Prof. Alston’s efforts would open the communication lines between the government and the various sectors concerned that would pave the way for cooperation and renewed trust and confidence to obtain justice," Bunye promised.

More than 800 victims of extrajudicial killings have been recorded by Karapatan.

'Vote builders, not breakers in polls', says Palace 02/21 5:40:16 PM

Malacañang called on the Filipino people Wednesday to vote for candidates who are 'builders' and not 'breakers'.

Press Secretary Ignacio R. Bunye said in a statement, "The May elections are mainly about the economy."

"The people must choose among those who have an economic plan and those who have not; among those who can sustain the momentum of growth, confidence and jobs—and those who will set back the clock," Bunye said.

He added that there are only two choices in this campaign: "one is a choice for nation-building; the other is a choice for breaking down the walls of the nation."

"We are confident that in the end, the people will vote for the economy rather than for politics, for the future rather than the past, and for unity rather than national disintegration," the presidential spokesperson said.

Palace calls on candidates not to pay guerilla extortion 02/21 5:30:53 PM

Don't pay 'em.

This was the response of Malacañang Wednesday to the communist rebels' extortion of political candidates campaigning in the provinces.

Press Secretary Ignacio R. Bunye said, "The extortion of campaign fees by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) is one of the most brazen assaults on civil and political rights."

"The government calls on all candidates, particularly those running for local posts, not to yield to the extortion; and the AFP and PNP have standing orders to preempt the NPA’s ability to move around and sow extortion and threats," Bunye said.

He added that everyone must cooperate to ensure honest, credible, clean and peaceful polls unhampered by threats, intimidation, vote buying and fraud.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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