HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Persecution Alarms World Parliamentarians
studying the documents submitted by six progressive lawmakers and the
Philippines’ justice secretary, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), has
expressed concern over the political persecution of six party-list
Batasan 6: Abused
studying the documents submitted by the six progressive lawmakers and the
justice secretary, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), in a confidential
decision, expressed concern over the political persecution of six
progressive legislators in the country.
four-page decision, a copy of which was obtained by Bulatlat, the
IPU stated, it “is further deeply concerned” over “the prosecution
attempts to criminalize legally authorized political parties, which
participated in the 2001 and 2004 elections and the parliamentary work of
decision was adopted by its
Committee on the Human Rights of
Parliamentarians during its
114th session on July 11-14, 2006 in Geneva, Switzerland. IPU is a
permanent observer of the United Nations and has 146 affiliated
parliaments from all over the world.
persecuted lawmakers being referred to were party list Reps. Saturnino
Ocampo, Teodoro Casiño, and Joel Virador of Bayan Muna (People First),
Crispin Beltran and Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis (Toiling Masses), and Liza
Maza of Gabriela Women’s Party.
have been charged with rebellion along with former Sen. Gregorio Honasan
and 40 others.
lawmakers were described in the confidential decision as “all known to be
outspoken critics of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's policies.”
decision further stated that it is “deeply concerned,” in the light
of the foregoing, at the continuing detention of Beltrán, which is
detrimental to his state of health. It “calls” once again on the
authorities to release him.
71, was arrested by the national police’s Criminal Investigation and
Detection Group (CIDG) on Feb. 25. He remains confined under police
custody at the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City. The decision stated
that Beltran’s “state of health has worsened in detention” in the “prison
decision also noted the attempts of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales and
the Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security (COC-IS) to bar
Ocampo from travelling to Jakarta on May 26 and June 12 despite the
official authorization from the House speaker.
also “notes” (i) the continuous efforts of the prosecution to
bring amended indictments, all based on the same broad allegations; (ii)
the circumstances of the arrest and detention of Mr. Beltrán in the
absence of any legally valid arguments; (iii) the inhibition/recusal (or
disqualification)of two judges as well as (iv) the public statements of
President Arroyo and the Secretary of Justice which clearly prejudge the
guilt of the persons concerned in disrespect of the fundamental principle
of the presumption of innocence.
“fears” that all this suggests that the persons concerned are
prosecuted on the basis of considerations which are alien to the law,” it
IPU’s 114th session, the committee examined 30 public cases concerning 112
parliamentarians in Bangladesh, Belarus, Burundi, Cambodia, Colombia,
Ecuador, Eritrea, Honduras, Palestine/Israel, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mongolia,
Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Zimbabwe. It
was chaired by Philippine Senator Franklin M. Drilon, and participated in
by parliamentarians Sharon Carstairs of Canada, committee vice-president
Fernando Margaín of Mexico, Zahia Benarous of Algeria, and Marie-José
Laloy of Belgium.
the list of cases being investigated by the IPU, Lim said the six Filipino
lawmakers are among those “parliamentarians who were abused by the
administration in power.”
stated that “this (persecution) constitutes a grave attack on parliament
itself and should therefore be of concern to the parliamentary
authorities; calls on them to closely monitor the investigation and
would appreciate the observations of the parliamentary authorities in this
IPU has decided to
continue examining this case at 115th IPU Assembly to be held in October
and “hopes to be able to close it upon reaching a satisfactory
Established in 1976, the Committee meets in camera four times a year to
ensure that the human rights of the world's parliamentary community -
composed of more than 40,000 members - are respected. It has contributed
to the settlement of a large number of the 500 cases in 104 countries that
it has examined since its creation.
Established in 1889, the IPU is the oldest multilateral political
organisation. It brings together 146 affiliated parliaments and seven
associated regional assemblies. The world organisation of parliaments acts
as Permanent Observer to the United Nations.
international organization of parliaments of sovereign states, IPU serves
as the focal point for world-wide parliamentary dialogue and works for
peace and co-operation among peoples and for the firm establishment of
is financed by its members out of public funds. Its budget for 2006 totals
10.5 million Swiss Francs.
from the IPU, other members of the international community have expressed
concern over the unabated political persecution and killings in the
alarm within the international community suggested that the administration
is “moving toward martial law” and “do not respect human rights anymore,”
said Benito Lim, a political analyst.
is also a fellow of the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG),
said that the persecution of the six lawmakers is part of the attack on
the Left. The Left, he said, is the target of Macapagal-Arroyo’s all-out
war. That is why, he added, other opposition congressmen like
representatives Alan Peter Cayetano and Francis Escudero were not touched.
he thinks the government would honor the IPU recommendations, he said, “kung
makakalusot ang gobyerno natin, lulusot ‘yan. ‘Yun naman palagi ang
ginagawa nila.” (If the government could get away with it, it would
continue with what it is doing. The government has always been that way.)
the Philippine government has acquired this behavior from the Bush’s
administration which “does not recognize international laws and
conventions as it launches its unilateral wars.” Bulatlat
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