Sunday, February 25, 2007

Detained lawmaker marks anniversary of arrest; remains defiant of the Macapagal-Arroyo government charges of rebellion against him

Sunday February 25, 2007

Detained lawmaker marks anniversary of arrest; remains defiant of the Macapagal-Arroyo government charges of rebellion against him

Nationally and internationally-coordinated protests beginning today are being held to mark the anniversary of Anakpawis Rep.Crispin Beltran's arrest. The activist lawmaker was arrested February 25 last year when Pres. Arroyo laid down Presidential Decree 1017 declaring a state of national emergency.

In the Philippines, jeepney drivers will be holding a motorcade from Mandaue City to Cebu City in protest of Ka Bel's continuing detention. Ecumenical masses will be offered for Ka Bel in various parishes all over the country. A big rally is scheduled tomorrow, Monday, February 26 in front of the Philippine Heart Center to be spearheaded by Anakpawis, Kilusang Mayo Uno and the Free Ka Bel Movement. In Germany, allies from militant unions and solidarity groups will be trooping to the offices of the Philippine embassy to press for Ka Bel's immediate release. An ecumenical service from 10:00-11:00 am will be held in front of the Philippine Heart Center tomorrow, and a protest rally immediately afterwards. Participants will then march to the offices of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA).

"It has been one year since I was arrested on false and fabricated charges. I will continue to insist and assert my innocence against the accusations leveled against me by the Macapagal-Arroyo government, particularly the Department of Justice. Despite the refusal of the Macapagal-Arroyo government to have me released, I do not lose hope that I will one of these days walk free. I am grateful to all those who continue to support me through these trying times, and who denounce the worsening political repression of this unjust and inhumane regime," Beltran, 74, said.

The veteran labor leader and activist lawmaker's case continues to win the support of local human rights organizations, as well as the support of the international community. The Interparliamentary Union (IPU) and Amnesty International have also repeatedly released statements, resolutions and reports condemning Ka Bel's arrest and demanding his immediate release.

"The Arroyo government has no legal and just reason to keep me under detention. The testimonies against me are all fabricated. I am being denied my freedom because I have refused to back down from my criticism and opposition to the Macapagal-Arroyo government's anti-poor, anti-people and anti-national programs and policies. My arrest one year ago and my continuing incarceration are all testimonies to the worsening political repression in the Philippines. It further exposes the truth about the Arroyo administration and its disrespect for the democratic right to express political dissent," he said.

"I have not made it a secret that I have no love for the Macapagal-Arroyo government because of its relentless attacks against the economic welfare and political rights of the Filipino people. I have not, however, resorted to any illegal means to bring it down. By keeping me detained and refusing to drop the false charges against me, the Arroyo regime only affirms its reputation as a burgeoning dictatorship and human rights violator."

Beltran is a four-time awardee of Most Oustanding Congressman of the Year awards, as well as Filipino of the Year by Graphic Magazine. He is now under 24-7 watch by elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detention Group (CIDG) as he is detained in the PHC. The Supreme Court has yet to act on a petition filed by his lawyers from the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) calling on the SC to assume jurisdiction over the case because of the inaction of the lower courts of Makati. #


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