The mayors of Negros Occidental welcomed the creation of a top-level special task force to look into allegations of extra legal killings in Escalante City, EB Magalona Mayor David Lacson, head of the Negros Association of Chief Executives and the League of Municipalities of the Philippines-Negros Occidental, said yesterday.
“But we are calling for a fair and swift investigation so the names of the innocent can be cleared,” Lacson said.
Escalante Mayor Melecio Yap and Senior Supt. Allan Guisihan, Negros Occidental police provincial director, also said earlier that they welcomed the creation of the task force to, once and for all, resolve the allegations.
Lacson said the mayors will meet soon to come up with a common stand on the matter after meeting with Yap. “I sympathize with the current predicament of our colleague,” he said.
Since 2007, there have been 19 reported unresolved killings in Escalante.
President Benigno Aquino III has promised the people of Escalante City that the spate of extra legal killings (ELKs) and other illegal activities in their city will addressed.
The President’s promise was stressed in a joint order creating a special task force to investigate such incidents.
Such ELKs have been reported to be linked to other serious peace and order issues in the area, including the proliferation of the illegal numbers game, illegal drugs and gun running activities, Joint Department Order No. 04-2011 creating “Task Force Escalante (TFE)” said.
The joint order was signed by Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo and Commission on Human Rights chairwoman Etta Rosales on October 13.
The TFE will be composed of a representative from the Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Justice, Commission on Human Rights, the provincial government and one from a community or civic group.
It is directed to conduct a thorough and full investigation of the ELKs in Escalante City towards the end of identifying and successfully prosecuting those responsible for them.
The task force has 45 days from its constitution to conduct its investigation and another 15 days to submit its report to Robredo, De Lima and Rosales.
They will then collectively review and transmit the report to the president.*CPG