Monday, April 16, 2007

Beltran will not enter any plea during this afternoon's arraignment of sedition charges against him

Monday March 26, 2007

Beltran will not enter any plea during this afternoon's arraignment of sedition charges against him

Anakpawis Representative and political detainee Crispin Beltran today said that he will not enter any plea in this afternoon's hearing of the sedition case against him at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 43. The said court headed by Acting Presiding Judge Thelma de los Santos had denied Beltran 's motion to quash the government's move to proceed with Criminal Case No. 132943 or the case charging him with sedition.

"I will not plead to anything. I do recognize the legitimacy of the charges against me. I was arrested based on a long-lapsed warrant; the testimonies against me are all fabricated, and the witnesses are all completely lacking in credibility. Let the court declare a plea on my behalf because I will not. I have been detained for over a year on a rebellion charge that has already been dismissed; and on the strength of testimonies that are patently false. This is a serious miscarriage of justice, "he said, defiant. He said that all charges against him should be dismissed because of glaring legal technicalities and the blatant perjury of the witnesses.

Beltran, 74, has been on a 'freedom fast' since Thursday morning as has been subsisting solely on soda crackers and water. He embarked on his fast in protest against his continuing incarceration as well as against the arrest of Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo. He will be attending this afternoon's arraignement on an essentially empty stomach.

"The Macapagal-Arroyo government continues to deny millions of Filipinos justice. The constantly worsening conditions of poverty, hunger and joblessness are grave injustices that remain unresolved. Add to these the escalating attacks against the human rights and civil liberties of Filipinos and what we have is a criminal government. My continuing incarceration is further proof that there is no democracy in the Philippines against the Macapagal-Arroyo administration. The Arroyo government is now completely utilizing and relying on underhanded and downright dirty means to silence its critics. The victims, however, will not be silent. We will not be silenced and continue to expose and protest against Pres. Arroyo's burgeoning dictatorship," he said.

The activist lawmaker and detainee said that his legal counsels led by Public Interest Law Center (PILC) president Atty. Romeo Capulong, Atty. Rachel Pastores and Atty. Amylyn Sato intend to file a motion for certiorari on the sedition charges against him. "I cannot be charged with both sedition and rebellion. The more serious crime should absorb the lesser crime; I, however, am innocent of both charges. I have an elected lawmaker since 2001 and done nothing but take full advantage and use of the parliamentary arena to further the cause of the poor and marginalized sectors which the progressive party-lists represent," he said.

Beltran challenged Department of Justice secretary Raul Gonzales to personally read and review all the testimonies supposedly proving Beltran's guilt. "If there's any sense of logic, reason and justice in Sec. Gonzales, he himself would concede that all the testimonies against me are fabrications. Himself a lawyer, he will easily see that all the evidence prove nothing of my supposed guilt but point towards by innocence of the charges. All I am guilty of is actively denouncing the abuses and corruption of the Macapagal-Arroyo presidency, and all that is within my rights not so much as a lawmaker, but as a Filipino living in a supposedly democratic society," he said.

In the meantime, the veteran labor leader turned legislator lauded the decision of the Permanent People's Tribunal to declare the Macapagal-Arroyo government guilty responsible for the extrajudicial killings and disappearances in the country.

"The Arroyo government cannot continue to ignore the growing number of institutions and internationalists expressing condemnation for the worsening human rights situation in the Philippines. Pres. Arroyo's stubborn insistence to stand by and defend the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and their paramilitary groups only exacerbate the crime of sanctioning the wide-scale execution of political activists and human rights advocates," he concluded.#


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