Sunday, April 15, 2007

IPU to visit detained lawmaker Beltran as soon as the delegation arrives on the 18th

Sunday , April 15, 2007

IPU to visit detained lawmaker Beltran as soon as the delegation arrives on the 18th

Officials of the Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU) are set to visit Anakpawis Representative and political detainee Crispin Beltran in his detention hospital room at the Philippine Heart Center on the afternoon of April 18, 2006. Beltran said that he was very much looking forward to their visit and expressed hope that the IPU's continuing interest in his case would add pressure for his release and the dismissal of the sedition and rebellion charges against him. IPU officials are also set to meet with Beltran's legal counsel, family members and officials of Anakpawis party-list including fellow Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano.

"My arrest and continuing detention is a black and white, clear-cut case of political repression. The government has no concrete or credible proof that I plotted with members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to overthrow Pres. Arroyo in late February last year. In the meantime, the court hearings have dragged on and were held very far and between. I've spent more than a year of my life incarcerated on false charges and fabricated testimonies. I am hopeful that the IPU will take my side and use its diplomatic authority to recommend my release," he said.

The veteran labor leader turned legislator, now 74 years old, said that the Macapagal-Arroyo administration refusal to release him even on the grounds that he is already a senior citizen reveals the government's callousness and extreme lack of compassion.

"Of course my release should not hinge on the fact that I'm 74 years old but on the fact that I am innocent of the charges the government has laid down against me. A fair, objective and unbiased investigation and review of the facts and circumstances surrounding my arrest and continuing detention will reveal that the government had me arrested out of a malicious intent to weaken the advocacy of the progressive party-list that I represent. I am guilty of nothing but being vocal in my criticism against the government's anti-poor and anti-people economic policies and its relentless attacks against the civil, political and human rights of the Filipino people," he said.

Beltran demanded that the various government officials including those in the police and the military as well as the Department of Justice (DOJ) will not lie when asked by the IPU about his case. In any case, Beltran said, the documents and other evidentiary materials will reveal who is saying the truth and who's lying.

"Sana maging tapat sila at hwag magsinungaling. Hwag nilang bolahin ang mga taga-IPU. I was arrested on February 25 on a 15 year-old rebellion charge that had lapsed and been dismissed long before. I have not plotted with or even spoken to a single member of the disgruntled group of soldiers about Pres. Arroyo. I was arrested for purely political reasons and not because I committed any crime against the government. Freedom of dissent and freedom of expression are rights guaranteed by the Constitution, but Pres. Arroyo and her various henchmen have long begun to abolish these bit by bit," he said.

The IPU delegation investigating the worsening repression against progressive lawmakers will be led by Sen. Sharon Carstairs of Canada and the IPU's secretary general, Anders B. Johnsson of Sweden. Carstairs is vice president of the IPU's committee on human rights of parliamentarians, which is headed by Senator Franklin Drilon. The Geneva-based IPU counts 143 national parliaments and seven regional parliamentary assemblies.

While in the country, the IPU leaders will conduct dialogues with House Speaker Jose de Venecia and Representative Bienvenido Abante Jr., human rights committee chairman; justice secretary Raul Gonzalez; defense sec. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr; interior and local local government sec. Ronaldo Puno; National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzalez; Philippine National Police Director General Oscar Calderon; Armed Forces chief General Hermogenes Ebdane Jr.; Commission on Elections chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr.; and Commission on Human Rights chair Purificacion Quisumbing.


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