Inter-Parliamentary Union Sends Team to Look Into Satur, Beltran Cases

Mar. 14, 2007

IPU to ask UN bodies on “continuing crime” doctrine

The prestigious Inter-Parliamentary Union, the organization of the
world’s national legislatures, will send a team of senators to Manila
to investigate first-hand the legal persecution of the Batasan 6,
specifically the arbitrary detention of Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
and the short-circuited issuance of the arrest warrant on Bayan Muna
Rep. Satur Ocampo.

In a letter to Ocampo’s office dated March 13, 2007, the IPU’s
Committee on Human Rights of Parliamentarians said that IPU
secretary-general Anders Johnsson of Sweden has written Speaker Jose
de Venecia regarding the questionable issuance of a warrant on arrest
on the House deputy minority leader. The IPU will also send a letter
to Justice Sec. Raul Gonzalez.

The IPU, whose 112th Assembly was hosted by Manila in 2005, condemned
last year’s fabricated rebellion charges against the Batasan 6 and the
detention of Rep. Beltran. The group said the legal assault on the six
representatives constituted “an attack on Congress itself.”

In a resolution, the IPU “reiterates its wish to ascertain the legal
basis of the concept of “continuing crime”, recalls once again that
the human right to personal liberty implies that individuals can only
be deprived of their liberty on legal grounds and under a procedure
established by law, both of which must conform to international
standards, and requests the Secretary General to submit this question
to the competent United Nations human rights bodies.”

The IPU probe team will be composed of Senator Sharon Carstairs of
Canada and Senator Rosario Macias Green of Mexico who will visit
Manila “with consent of the authorities and an assurance that the
delegation can meet Rep. Beltran”.

“The action of the IPU shows that the Arroyo government cannot get
away with its legal shortcuts that undermine the rights of Ka Satur as
a citizen and as a legislator. The world is watching how Manila is
depriving the partylist solons rights from the time of Proclamation
1017 up to the ongoing manhunt against Ka Satur,” said Bayan Muna
Representative Teddy Casio.

Casio chided Speaker De Venecia’s silence over the plight of Ocampo
and Beltran. “Buti pa ang IPU gumagawa ng hakbang para sa mga miyembro
ng Kongreso natin. Daig pa nila si JDV na walang malasakit. Up to now,
the Speaker is silent on the new concocted case and manhunt on

Bayan Muna General Counsel Neri Javier Colmenares said Manila should
not hinder the IPU team and open the country’s doors to Senators
Carstairs and Green. “Preventing their entry will only fan the flames
of international protest. The world has a right to know whether the
government is upholding the human rights of citizens and their elected

According to Colmenares, “the transparent harassment of Ocampo is
strengthening Arroyo’s reputation as a tyrant who does not respect the
human rights and due process.”

Colmenares, a country expert on international law, said the IPU team
should be allowed to obtain information on the Arroyo government’s
targeting of the Batasan 6 and the progressive partylists in its
counter-insurgency campaign. “Oplan Bantay Laya translates to
political killings and political persecution. This poisons the
partylist system and cuts down the powers of the people to elect their
representatives.” ###

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