The growing number of unresolved political killings in the Philippines could trigger "a retaliatory spiral" that would erode public order and respect for human rights, Amnesty International warned yesterday.
The London-based human rights watchdog said the government has "failed to protect individuals and their human rights" amid a spate of extra-judicial killings since President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo came into power in 2001.
According to a local human rights group, more than 700 people have been killed in the country since 2001, including leftist, political and human rights activists, journalists, labor leaders, religious leaders and judges.
Amnesty said it recorded at least 51 killings alleged to be politically motivated in the first six months of the year, compared to 66 last year.
It warned the killings already resulted in threats by guerrilla groups to "form retaliatory assassination squads" to target soldiers and policemen, who have been the main suspects in the murders.
"The rising incidence of political killings risks a retaliatory spiral of killings by armed groups," the watchdog said in a report on political killings and human rights abuses in the Philippines.
The report added that the government's failure to investigate, prosecute and convict suspects "risks perpetuating a cycle of human rights violations, not least by sending a message of de facto state tolerance for such practices."