Batasan 6 to reunite at House on Monday

Jun. 03, 2007

MANILA, Philippines — Barring any new antics from the Arroyo government, members of the
progressive partylist bloc called Batasan 6 will return and reunite in
the House of Representatives on Monday, the start of the four-day
closing session of the 13th Congress.

The last hurdle to such a reunion is the release of Anakpawis Rep.
Crispin Beltran, the most senior among the six, who has been
arbitrarily detained in the Philippine Heart Center for over 15

Bayan Muna Rep. Joel Virador, who presided over the partylist group’s
Mindanao electoral campaign, is set to arrive tomorrow from Davao

At the opening of office hours on Monday, Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza,
Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano, Bayan Muna Reps. Satur Ocampo, Teddy
Casio and Virador will formally ask the Makati Regional Trial Court
Branch 146 to dismiss the false charges against them and to
immediately order Beltran’s release.

The six solons’ chief legal counsel, former United Nations ad litem
judge Romeo Capulong, will assist them in filing the urgent ex-parte
motions at the sala of Presiding Judge Elmo M. Alameda.

Alameda is expected to grant the Batasan 6 petitions en toto, as
ordered by the Supreme Court.

As soon as Alameda issues written dismissal and release orders,
Capulong and the five solons will fetch Beltran from the hospital.

Beltran also faces a charge for “inciting to sedition”, a crime
punishable with a maximum penalty of less than six years and is
therefore covered by parliamentary immunity. The Metropolitan Trial
Court of Quezon City has long issued a release order for Beltran.

In its ruling issued yesterday, the Supreme Court noted that the said
METC release order was never implemented since it was issued on March
13, 2006.

Ocampo, the acknowledged leader of the six-person bloc and a deputy
minority leader in the House, said the Batasan 6 reunion is “a symbol
of hope amid the gloom of political repression. We earnestly hope that
the nation can obtain justice and secure an end to all forms of
political persecution.”

“Our plans for a Monday reunion are still not final. We may still
encounter problems like a putative motion for reconsideration hinted
by Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye even as the Arroyo government already
made assurances to the international community that it will respect
the outcome of the Supreme Court petitions and not hinder Beltran’s
petitions to be released from detention,” said Ocampo.

Beltran has made clear yesterday that he will immediately deliver a
speech urging Congress to pass his pet bill, the bill granting a P125
across-the-board wage increase for workers nationwide which is
supported by most of the country’s major labor centers.

“Many of our colleagues and committee staff have long missed Ka Bel
and we expect them to applaud his return and to listen to his
important remarks at the plenary,” said Mariano.

Mariano said the last four session days of Congress should be devoted
to pro-people bills and resolutions.

“The best way to commemorate 100 years of the House of Representatives
is to faithfully serve the people who own this house,” said Mariano.
“Ka Bel’s P125 wage hike bill is one such bill long demanded by the

According to Maza, “we have been told that our place in the history of
Congress is already secure. We endured the most terrible forms of
political harassment and we came out victorious. Malevolent elements
tried to trash our hard-won popular mandate to represent the
marginalized and underrepresented sectors but we prevailed.”

“We are ready for anything else they my have in store,” said Maza.

Virador meanwhile said that he will pitch for stronger congressional
action on extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.

“The Supreme Court decision in favor of the Batasan 6 should end
political persecution through the legal process. It should also
inspire Congress to take an active role to get to the roots of the
malaise of political slays and abductions that continue to haunt the
nation,” said Virador who once served as secretary-general of
Karapatan in Southern Mindanao.

Among the more nearly 900 victims of extrajudicial killings are 130
Bayan Muna members and leaders. Scores of Bayan Muna members are
included in the list of over 200 victims of enforced disappearances.

Virador will also bid farewell to the House this week. He has chosen
to go back to Davao City’s mass movement over serving another term as
Bayan Muna partylist representative. Expected to take his place in the
14th Congress is human rights lawyer and international law expert Neri
Javier Colmenares.

For Casio, whether or not the Batasan 6 succeeds in holding a reunion
on Monday will impact on President Arroyo’s visits to Italy and

“The waters of Fatima may turn into blood when she prays before the
image of Virgin Mary there,” said Casio.

“Mrs. Arroyo has repeatedly stated before the international community
that no one is being persecuted in the Philippines. But her
government’s maltreatment of our rights as struck down by the High
Court exposes her hypocrisy statements,” said Casio. “Let’s see what
the government will do on Monday when we press for Ka Bel’s release.”

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