Monday, April 02, 2007

Continuing detention of progressive lawmakers proof of rotten criminal justice system in RP

Monday April 2, 2007

Continuing detention of progressive lawmakers proof of rotten criminal justice system in RP

Anakpawis Representative and political detainee Crispin Beltran today expressed strong agreement with the assessment made by the Hong Kong-based Asian Legal Resource Center (ALRC) that there is a "rotten criminal justice system" in the Philippines and this is at the core of the government's failure to deliver justice to Filipinos.

"The justice system in the country is so rotten that the justice department is headed by the likes of Secretary Raul Gonzalez who is patently incapable of being fair and objective, not to mention patriotic and pro-Filipino," he said. "There is also a national security adviser by the name of Norberto Gonzales who has the authority to pressure provincial courts into filing charges against progressive lawmakers and officials of their party-lists."

According to ALRC, "command irresponsibility," the non-existent witness protection program, the bias of state officers toward victims and their families and the irregularities in investigation and prosecution are major obstacles to resolving extra-judicial killings."

Beltran said that the fact that there are over 830 extra-judicial killings that remain unsolved and there are two progressive lawmakers detained on false and trumped-up charges are more than enough testimony to the rottenness of the justice system. The activist lawmaker who is currently on the second day of his second round of fasting in two weeks said that he himself has been detained for 14 months on the strength of a lapsed warrant and blatantly bogus testimonies of false witnesses. He also said that fellow progressive solon Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo was also arrested and charged with murders that supposedly took place 20 years ago when the latter was actually under political detention.

Beltran expressed hope, however, that the Supreme Court would act favorably on Ocampo's case as well as well as on his. Last November, Beltran's lawyers filed a petition for certiorari calling on the High Court to assume jurisdiction over Beltran's sedition and rebellion cases given the slow movement of the said cases in the Makati Regional Trial Court and the Quezon City Municipal Trial Court.

"The criminal justice system in the country is so corrupt that it often only works for the rich and influential. An American Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith is convicted of rape is allowed to leave the confines of a local jail and transferred to the comfort of the American embassy. We are not even sure if he's still in the country or has been repatriated to the US," he said.

"And we haven't even considered the fact that the president of the country cheated her way to victory and her allies in the supposed lawmaking branch of government refused to even hear out two very valid impeachment complaints against her," he said.

PGMA washes hands off issue of AFP deployment in urban centers

On a related issue of AFP troop deployment, Beltran said that Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's decision to wash her hands off the matter proves that the military is all but running the government.

"Pres. Arroyo is way too afraid to offend or displease the Armed Forces of the Philippines so instead of ordering its troops to pull out of the urban poor communities in obeisance to the strong public clamor, she is washing her hands and letting the AFP decide on the matter," he said.

"All religious formations should condemn this undermining of civilian authority in favor of the military. There are already documented complaints coming from community residents against the troops' presence, and there is already an established atmosphere of fear and political repression in the areas where the troops are deployed. Pres. Arroyo has disregarded all these in her determination to keep the military's loyalty," he said.

The activist lawmaker slammed Pres. Arroyo's decision and said that her refusal to heed the public call for troop withdrawal is yet another compelling reason to defeat her Team Unity candidates. "The AFP troops are campaigning for the Team Unity slate while discouraging and even blatantly prohibiting supporters of opposition candidates as well as those of the progressive party-lists from making the rounds of the communities," he said.#


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