August 24, 2006 · Posted in: Human Rights

Meet the Melo Commission

ON August 21, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Administrative Order No. 157 creating an independent commission to probe the killings of media workers and activists. Led by former Supreme Court Associate Justice Jose Melo, the other appointees are National Bureau of Investigation Director Nestor Mantaring and Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño from the government, and Butuan Bishop Juan de dios Pueblos and UP Regent Nelia Torres Gonzales from the private sector.

The commission can summon witnesses, and deputize military, police and justice officials for assistance.

Congressional, militant and Church leaders have questioned the members’ track record on human rights and the commission’s independence, saying that because the NBI and the DOJ are subordinates of the President, the commission will be a mere mouthpiece of the administration.

Malacañang has asked its critics to give the commission a chance.

Meet the members of the Melo commission:

Jose MeloJose Melo is a “man who has not forgotten his roots and a magistrate who expeditiously afforded justice to every man”, said former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. in a 2002 tribute, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer

The report also described Melo as a “God-fearing family man” known for his integrity and zeal to quickly resolve cases.

Melo served for 23 years in the judiciary and was then president Fidel Ramos’ first Supreme Court appointee in 1992. He was previously an acting presiding justice of the Court of Appeals, where he held a record of having a zero backlog of cases.

Melo spent a total of 40 years in public service. In 1962, he joined government as an executive assistant in the Malacañang legal office during the administration of President Diosdado Macapagal. He entered the Office of the Solicitor General in 1971, and was concurrent acting commissioner of the Professional Regulation Commission until 1975. In 1979, he was appointed commissioner of the Civil Service Commission before being named to the Court of Appeals.

Melo was also a “confidential assistant” to the chair of the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission and an advisor in the Philippine National Bank.

Born in Pampanga, Melo finished his law degree at the Manuel L. Quezon School of Law and later joined the firm of Sen. Jose W. Diokno. In 1960, he obtained a master of law degree, with the highest grade of “meritissimus,” from the University of Santo Tomas.

Nestor Mantaring was appointed NBI Director last July 27.

Mantaring, 58, joined the NBI as a casual employee on 1966. He rose through the ranks, eventually being appointed regional director of the NBI Central Luzon (Region 3), Southern Luzon (Region IV), Special Task Force before becoming the NBI Assistant Director.

Newly appointed as NBI Acting Director on April 19, he became embroiled in controversy when some NBI agents led by then Deputy Director for Intelligence Edmund Arugay threatened to withdraw their support for him last June 29 for alleged mismanagement and “favoritism”.

A native of Oriental Mindoro, Mantaring studied law at the Far Eastern University and briefly taught at St. Joseph’s Academy before joining the NBI.

Jovencito Zuño was appointed Chief State Prosecutor in 1997. He rose through the ranks of the National Prosecution Service, starting as a special counsel in the City Fiscal’s Office in Batangas in 1975.

He was promoted to Acting City Fiscal of Batangas in 1982, but was soon transferred to the Department of Justice because he incurred the wrath of Kilusang Bagong Lipunan stalwarts.

Zuño, 61, has handled many high-profile cases, securing the conviction of Rep. Romeo Jalosjos for the rape of a minor, and of Hubert Webb and his co-accused for the murder of the Vizconde family.

A native of Batangas, he took up law at the University of the East.

Bishop Juan de dios Pueblos of Butuan was appointed to the Melo commission to replace Batanes Bishop Camilo Gregorio, who declined the appointment, deferring to the autonomy of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

Bishop Pueblos, 63, was ordained in 1985. Born in Bohol, he studied theology and received his Master’s degree from the San Carlos Major Seminary

He has served as chaplain of the Assumption College of Makati and played a key role in the 2004 Panagtagbo Alang sa Kalinaw (Dialogue for Peace) aimed at resolving hostilities between indigenous residents and government troops in the country’s southern region.

He also taught at the Divine Word College in Tagbilaran City and was principal at the St. Anthony Academy in Carmen school director at the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Academy in Balilihan.

Nelia Teodoro-Gonzalez is a member of the Board of Regents of the University of the Philippines and leads many civic and academic organizations.

She is the governor of the Manila Overseas Press Club, president of the Philippine Federation of Business and Professional Women, and head of the Carmelite Foundation. She also served as president of the Los Baños chapter of the UP Alumni Association, and Asiaworld Properties Philippine Corp. and as a Zonta (Quezon City) chapter president.

She is also involved in advocacy work to help the poor, such as improving the welfare of street children.

She studied agriculture at the University of the Philippines Los Baños and received her Master’s in Public Administration from the University of the Philippines Diliman.

11 Responses to Meet the Melo Commission



August 25th, 2006 at 4:26 am

it is sad that gov’t’s answer to the human rights violation is to further throw smoke screen in front of the people. creating commissions and task forces here and there will not accomplish anything so long as their mandate is not to find the truth and punish the perpetrators. instead, these commissions and task forces seem to exist for the purpose of defending the gov’t’s inability to stop the violations!

the people need real protection from the gov’t, not excuses!



August 26th, 2006 at 4:12 am

I think the President started this one in the wrong footing. First, she should appoint a one person acceptable to everyone and has the reputation to be his/her own person to lead the commission or the inquiry. Second, let that person choose his/her own staff, his own counsel and prosecutors and let him run his commission according to his own rules as mandated. Third, give the commission the power of subpoena and power to summarily detain those who refused and disregard the order to appear before the commission. Fourth, that all that testify before the commission under oath are subject to the crime of Felony if found not telling the truth with a specific penalty to deter lies and false testimonies.

Appointing too many people with differing views and perspectives into an invetigative commission will just complicate matter and prolong the process. Chances are before the can settle on schedules and procedures, scopes and lenghts of the whole process, another government might be in place…




August 28th, 2006 at 12:52 pm

Naykika; allow me to disagree with your assesment. :) .

The usurper and squatter in Malacanan did right in “creating an INDEPENDENT commission to probe political killings of both activists and crusading journalists”.

As they have a penchant for INDEPENDENTLY interpreting, twisting universally accepted norms and laws to suit and promote their vested interests; the Palace operators, in their latest move shows that at least, were once again consistent in their efforts to perpetually hide skeletons in closets—must be brimming full by now.

We can now expect an army of ‘independent’ personalities and groupings to vouch for the integrity, and character of those who comprise the commission. Add to that, the songs of self-praise as to their past accomplishments and what they stood for in defense of human rights and tolerance of criticisms.

Without any little doubt, ‘independent’ commission plus ‘independent’ probers plus ‘independent’ witnesses and resource persons will surely bring out independent results, no?

A ho-hum page-report is expected; excepting the Great Pretender-GMA, Gen. Palp-ran, AFP and PNP personnel from responsibility, but blames the activists and insurgents instead.

A report so independent, so detach from reality that only those who created the Commission themselves will accept it.

Meanwhile, a commission awaits the Commission…



August 28th, 2006 at 2:31 pm

Yes freewheel, I agree with your disagreements.

Further to my suggestions, which I believe the most effective way to conduct an inquiry, she should also make available funds for everyone to afford their own counsel. Because if one party has the advantage of legal counsel, while others don’t, then the field is not Level and the “truth” is also tilted.

Lastly, an Inquiry is not needed for this case, because it is already known what is going on, the motives, the perpetrators, the people behind the perpetrators, and the people behind the people behind the perpetrators. This is a straighforward Criminal Acts, that requires a concerted Police Efforts, without Political intervention, and a justice system that befits its name.


INSIDE PCIJ » IFJ ‘heartened’ by arrest of suspect in journalist slay

August 30th, 2006 at 7:52 pm

[…] Last week, President Arroyo created the Melo Commission to investigate the killings of journalists and activists in the country. She gave it what the Palace calls “a sweeping mandate to break this cycle of violence once and for all.” […]


INSIDE PCIJ » Media killings and the Melo Commission

September 4th, 2006 at 8:43 pm

[…] THE Melo commission should not lump media and political killings together in its investigation, as the root causes of the two types of killings are different, according to the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP). […]


INSIDE PCIJ » The killings continue

December 31st, 2006 at 11:38 pm

[…] Despite the creation of Task Force Usig and the Melo Commission, killings have continued. This has drawn heavy criticism from Amnesty International, the European Union, Canadian human rights wokers, and other international observers. Human rights groups have tagged the military as the perpetrators behind many of the killings. Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police has pinned the blame on an internal purge within the Communist Party of the Philippine, a charge that has been denied by the New People’s Army. […]


INSIDE PCIJ » Where is the Melo report?

February 6th, 2007 at 7:28 pm

[…] For the time being, people have had to rely on statements issued by members of the Melo Commission. […]


INSIDE PCIJ » Military must admit extrajudicial killings - UN prober

February 21st, 2007 at 7:50 pm

[…] Karapatan secretary-general Marie Hilao-Enriquez welcomed the corrective measures in Alston’s statement. She said that Karapatan presented witnesses and evidence to Alston because of his credibility and his independence. In contrast, the group did not cooperate with the Melo commission, which was widely perceived as a rubber-stamp body. […]


Pampanga has most number of incidents of extra-judicial killings—study | Newsbreak Online

September 18th, 2010 at 1:28 pm

[…] In the wake of the rise in extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances, President Arroyo created a Commission in August 2006 to look into the killings of journalists and activists. The Commission, which was […]


Pampanga has most number of incidents of extra-judicial killings | Newsbreak | Independent Journalism

October 15th, 2011 at 10:27 pm

[…] the wake of the rise in extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances, President Arroyo created a Commission in August 2006 to look into the killings of journalists and activists. The Commission, which was […]

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