Manila's Arroyo vows to end political violence

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MANILA, Oct 1 (Reuters) President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo today ordered the Philippine police to take steps to end political violence, which she blamed on both communist rebels and rogue elements in the security forces.

Just back from the United Nations in New York, where she defended her human rights record, Arroyo said she expected the new national police chief to report on the murders of journalists and left-wing activists, and arrest those responsible.

''We deplore any and all killings of political activists and journalists,'' Arroyo said at the main police camp in Manila today.

''Our nation has an unfortunate history of political violence by those on the left and the right and we hope to break that cycle once and for all.'' Arroyo said her government would provide the 10,000-member national police with funds and equipment to improve investigations, including into the security forces.

''If there are rogue elements, they must be brought to justice,'' she added.

A local human rights group has said more than 800 people have been killed since Arroyo came to power in 2001. About 200 have also disappeared, believed executed.

A UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings said in February the military was responsible for many of the deaths.

But the army denied the allegations, blaming many of the murders and abductions on internal purges within the communist New People's Army (NPA) rebels, while international rights groups have said there's evidence of a ''dirty war'' by the military.

Arroyo also blamed the communist rebels and Islamic militant group Abu Sayyaf for rights violations in the south of the mainly Roman Catholic country.

''They impede the progress and development of a number of rural areas. They're responsible for a wide range of human rights abuses.'' REUTERS SKB KN1512

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