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Senator Joker Arroyo, who served as Executive Secretary during the Corazon Aquino Presidency, said early this week that “lesser legal minds” reviewed the report of the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC). The IIRC was chaired by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, and included, among others, former Congressman Roan Libarios, governor of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

Before her appointment as Secretary of Justice, de Lima had distinguished herself in the Commission on Human Rights by making that body truly independent by uncovering and in some cases putting a stop to, the human rights abuses the government was concealing. It was a considerable achievement, not only because de Lima chaired the CHR during the term of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, among whose appalling legacies is the politicization of practically every government institution including the Commission on Elections in behalf of her singular focus on staying in power. It was also courageous, since it meant displeasing the police and the military, whose human rights abuses de Lima did not flinch from exposing.

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THE speed with which the Philippine National Police has identified, and filed murder charges against, the suspects in the killing of an Ilocos Norte journalist was unprecedented.

Police investigations into extrajudicial killings and the killing of journalists, if they take place at all, usually move with the speed of flowing molasses. This time the investigation, identification of the suspects, and the filing of charges took place in one week in what must be the police equivalent of lightning speed. It is also unusual for local officials to be so quickly charged , the alleged principal being the vice mayor-elect of Bacarra, Ilocos Norte. But that he has not yet taken office and established the usual networks with the police and the military could have helped hasten the process.

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