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PROTEST VS POLITICAL KILLINGS GREETS GMA IN TOKYO TRIP

by Pesante-USA Thursday, May. 24, 2007 at 12:17 PM
magsasakapil@hotmail.com 213-241-0906 337 Glendale Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026

President Arroyo was greeted with protest on Tuesday as Japan-based human rights groups gathered in front of the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo urging her to immediately end the spate of political killings in the Philippines and prosecute the perpetrators. Members of Amnesty International Japan, Human Rights Now and other groups also called on Tokyo to push visiting Mrs. Arroyo on human rights issues.

PROTEST VS POLITICAL KILLINGS GREETS GMA IN TOKYO TRIP

05/24/2007

Manila-- President Arroyo was greeted with protest on Tuesday as Japan-based human rights groups gathered in front of the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo urging her to immediately end the spate of political killings in the Philippines and prosecute the perpetrators.

Members of Amnesty International Japan, Human Rights Now and other groups also called on Tokyo to push visiting Mrs. Arroyo on human rights issues.

They also handed to the embassy a letter for the Chief Executive. In the letter, the groups urged the Philippine military and national police “to immediately stop using the policy of targeting civilian organizations and individual activists.”

Mrs. Arroyo acts as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

According to Japanese news agency Kyodo, simultaneous demonstrations were also staged in Nagoya and Osaka on the same day.

“The letter also urged the Philippine government to condemn all political killings consistently and at every level of government and to ensure that those responsible for political killings are brought to justice,” the report said.

Sonoko Kawakami of Amnesty International Japan said she hoped the gathering would add to international pressure and help get the situation changed quickly.

Malacañang sources, for their part, said the President was in a good mood when she arrived in Japan but turned sour after Philippine Ambassador Domingo Siazon apparently “failed” on his job to notify her on the protests.

“There were other heads of states visiting Japan but it appeared that they centered their protests against our President,” the source said.

“The President was unhappy over the ineptitude of Siazon,” the source added.

Mrs. Arroyo is on a four-day trip to Japan to attend the 13th Nikkei Conference and to meet with Japanese businessmen.

She will also hold a bilateral meeting with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe where the two leaders are expected to discuss much-delayed ratification of Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa) and other trade and economic matters.

The President assured that her administration would not allow the Philippines to be the dumping site of toxic and other hazardous waste materials from Japan under the proposed Jpepa.

The ratification of the Jpepa has been pending in the Senate since Congress went on a recess last February in preparation for the May 14 mid-term elections.

“We have to address certain issues. But to start with, Japan is our valued partner. The Jpepa is a milestone in our relationship. And it is very important that we have to explain very carefully what the advantages of the agreement to our Filipino farmers, fishermen, food processors and our nurses and caregivers,” Mrs. Arroyo said.

She added upon her return to the country on Friday, she would immediately hold discussions with the senators on the various ramifications of the agreement and its importance to the Philippines.

“I believe when the issues are clarified, no reasonable senator will oppose the ratification” of the proposed agreement, Mrs. Arroyo stressed.

Press Secretary Ignacio R. Bunye, in a statement, said Mrs. Arroyo is confident senators would support ratification of the Jpepa after she explains to them the full range of immediate and long-term benefits the country would derive from the agreement.

“We live in a lively democracy. Opposition is part of democracy and is expected in the Senate ratification process,” the Palace official said.

Bunye, however, added the administration is confident that the “Senate will listen to all and weigh the issues” involved in the proposed accord. Michaela P. del Callar, Sherwin C. Olaes and AFP

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