Philippines: As election campaign endS, Beltran says gov’t reneged on release promise to IPU

May. 11, 2007

MANILA — As the electoral campaign for the May 14 polls draws to a close, Anakpawis Representative and political detainee Crispin Beltran said that there is no longer any doubt that the Macapagal-Arroyo administration made sure that he was not released to ensure that he would not be able to help campaign for his party-list Anakpawis. He said that it was also becoming clear that the government is reneging on its promise to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) that it will not make any opposition to legal moves for his release.

“It’s been three weeks since the IPU visit and since I filed my motion for bail, but nothing has happened. Solicitor-general Agnes Devenadera continues to avoid my lawyers led by Atty. Romeo Capulong, saying that she has not received any instructions from her superiors to address my motion for bail,” he said. “While it may be true that the government will not issue any public statement opposing my release through bail, the fact that there is still no movement and decision on it implies the opposite, that the government still refuses to have me released.”

“I suspect that National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales has thought that a promise to not oppose my release is already enough, nevermind that I am not actually given my freedom,” he said.

The veteran labor leader, however, has been allowed by Makati Regional Trial Court judge Elmo Alameda of Branch 150 to leave his detention room at the Philippine Heart Center (PHC) so he can cast his vote in Gao, Commonwealth, Quezon. He is set to vote at 10 am.

“Through the inaction of Solgen Devenedera on my petition, the Macapagal-Arroyo administration is making sure that there’s no progress in the chance of my plea for bail being immediately granted,” he said.

Not throwing in the towel

In reaction to the latest SWS-Inquirer Survey showing that Anakpawis is set to retain only one of its two seats in congress, Beltran said that Anakpawis is not throwing in the towel.

“We remain confident that we will do better than what the May 2-4 SWS survey implies. We have faith not in surveys but in the efforts of our members and supporters nationwide, and we aim to at least retain our two seats in congress. The surveys only serve as guideposts and reminders that we have to continue to campaigning hard. As the electoral campaign draws to an end, we are now shifting our focus to the actual polling process and securing our votes. There is the unshakable threat that there will be massive fraud in various forms, and the votes of the bloc of the progressive party-lists are also targets along with the votes of the candidates of the Genuine Opposition,” he said.

Anakpawis’ main organizations are the Kilusang Mayo Uno, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, the Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), Pamalakaya, Amihan, PISTON and Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY).

Beltran said that it was evident that his incarceration has proved an inconvenience for Anakpawis’ electoral campaign. “I would have been more able to contribute to our second electoral bid had I not been incarcerated. My arrest and continuing detention has been a serious blow against our electoral campaign and objectives to secure the maximum number of seats. Rep. Rafael Mariano and Anakpawis third nominee Joel Maglunsod have had to shoulder bulk of the campaigning along with out other national and regional leaders,” he said. #

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