Jailed Philippines Lawmaker Eyes Freedom on May 1

Apr. 25, 2007

MANILA — Anakpawis Representative and political detainee Crispin Beltran today expressed hope that he will be released on bail before May 1, International Labor Day, just in time for Anakpawis Party-List’s miting de avance at the Liwasang Bonifacio. He has been under detention since February 25, 2006 on charges of inciting to sedition and rebellion. He has consistently denied both charges and accused the government of illegal and unlawful arrest using a 22-year old warrant.

Beltran’s counsels led by Public Interest Law Center (PILC) president Atty. Romeo Capulong has long before included a prayer for the granting of bail in Beltran’s petition for certiorari at the Supreme Court, and another certiorari petition at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court. Counsels have said that it is now up to the courts to lay down a decision granting approval for the motion for bail and to stipulate the amount. Beltran’s lawyers have issued the prayer for the swift resolution of the charges against him.

“If necessary, we will yet again file a separate motion for bail. In whichever case, we hope that the courts will immediately allow me to post bail and to leave my detention hospital room at the Philippine Heart Center,” said Beltran.

It has been reported that National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales has said that the government will no longer block any moves for Beltran’s release on bail. This following dialogues with representatives of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) led by Canadian Sen. Sharon Carstairs and IPU secretary general Anders Johnsson. Various senatorial candidates including Joker Arroyo, Chiz Escudero, Alan Peter Cayetano, Aquilino Pimentel, Loren Legarda, Ralph Recto and Gringo Honasan have called for Beltran’s release. His case is also being closely followed by Amnesty International and various other international church and human rights organizations all over the world.

“We hope that the government will be true to its word and transmit this commitment to the courts at the soonest possible time. As for the courts, they should see that the charges against me are weak and probable cause has not been established. I hope that they will lay down a decision allowing my release at the soonest possible time,” Beltran said.

Fellow Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano in the meantime said that it was high-time that his detained colleague be granted his freedom however temporary so he (Beltran) can still participate in the electoral campaign and make the rounds in the regions and provinces.

“Ka Bel has been sorely missed on the campaign trail and his release will be a big morale booster for our members and supporters especially in the light of the continuing attacks in the form of political repression and extra-judicial killings against us and our members,” he said.

“Workers and farmers led by Anakpawis Party-List couldn’t wish for anything more than to see Ka Bel walk free and be one with them during our miting de avance on May 1, International Labor Day. Our victory in the party-list elections in May will be all the sweeter with Ka Bel free and the charges against him dropped. Along with the representatives of Bayan Muna and Gabriela Women’s Party, we seek to continue performing our mandate as lawmakers of the people and the true representatives of the marginalized sectors in congress,” he said. #

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