Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Spokesperson of Free Ka Bel Movement risks being arrested and charged with rebellion when he returns to the country

May 30, 2007

Spokesperson of Free Ka Bel Movement risks being arrested and charged with rebellion when he returns to the country

The chief of staff of detained lawmaker Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran today said that Free Ka Bel Movement (FKBM) spokesman Dennis Maga was under serious threat of being arrested and charged with rebellion when he arrives in the country on June 2 from New Zealand. The FKBM is a broad alliance of individuals and organizations pressing for the immediate release of Rep. Beltran. It was established three days after Beltran was arrested last year on February 25.

Ina Alleco Silverio said that Maga's family have been informed by well-meaning individuals that Maga stands to be arrested when he arrives and might even be charged with rebellion. Maga participated in the New Zealand protests against Pres. Gloria Arroyo when the latter made a state visit to the country earlier this week. Maga was vetted by the NZ National Distribution Union which is an ally of the Free Ka Bel Movement and campaigning for Rep. Beltran's release.

"Maga was only doing his duty as the spokesperson of the Free Ka Bel Movement and an official of one of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) federations. What he did – to protest and express condemnation against the worsening human rights situation in the Philippines and Ka Bel's continuing incarceration – was not against the law and even guaranteed by it. It was all within his rights. The Macapagal-Arroyo administration is now threatening to charge him with rebellion because of this; this should not be allowed to happen," Silverio said.

"Ka Bel is most grateful to the international support the campaign for his release continues to receive; and he is personally grateful to Dennis for the symbolic protest he made in New Zealand."

Silverio said that the government would be proving Maga and his protest in New Zealand well justified if it so much lifts a finger to have Maga arrested and detained.

"It would be an even greater international embarrassment if the Philippine government retaliates against Maga and his symbolic protest. Dennis Maga was protesting against the detention of a progressive Philippine lawmaker; and now he himself is being threatened with arrest and detention," she added.

Silverio said that the National Distribution Union (NDU) and allied New Zealand legislators and government officials are now working to get guarantees and reassurances from the Philippine government that it will not arrest Maga or file charges against him for his democratic protest.

She asked members of the civil and democratic rights community as well as church leaders to speak out in defense of Maga's rights and help secure his safe return to the Philippines on June 2.#


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