On the second anniversary of the brutal Ampatuan massacre, journalists worldwide have also marked November 23, 2011 as the first International Day to End Impunity. (MNS Photo)

On the second anniversary of the brutal Ampatuan massacre, journalists worldwide have also marked November 23, 2011 as the first International Day to End Impunity. (MNS Photo)

NEW YORK, New York, Sept 24 (Mabuhay) – President Benigno S. Aquino III has expressed his administration’s seriousness in addressing extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

The government is not after merely identifying the assailants but focuses on convicting the murderers, President Aquino told students and faculty during the Columbia University World Leaders Forum here Tuesday.

“There has to be certainty of punishment for all of these things that happened. And they (Department of Justice) have, in turn, secured quite a number of convictions for those involved in extralegal killings,” he said.

He further said that the government is making efforts to train Filipino policemen to improve their forensic capabilities, refine the witness protection program, and hold government officials accountable for the protection of the rights of every citizen.

The problem is the very lengthy process in litigating cases under the Philippine judicial system, the President said, citing as an example the Maguindanao massacre, where more than 100 suspects have to be investigated and arraigned in court.

The government does not want to perform quick justice because it would be accused of violating the rights of the suspects, he added.

But the main point is that a killing is a killing and it is a violation of the law, he said, emphasizing that regardless of who did it and why he did it, there has to be penalties under the law.

President Aquino acknowledged that despite some drawbacks, the government has also scored several successes in terms of convictions and it will continue to strive for equal justice to everyone. (MNS)