AN APPEAL TO OUR FRIENDS AND FELLOW PARLIAMENTARIANSPublished by MAC on 2006-03-07
AN APPEAL TO OUR FRIENDS AND FELLOW PARLIAMENTARIANS
7th March 2006
Dear Friends and Fellow Parliamentarians, As you read this letter, we, five members of the Philippine House of Representatives—Satur Ocampo, Teodoro Casiño, Joel Virador, Liza Maza and Rafael Mariano – remain holed up in our offices under threat of warrantless arrest if we so much as take one step outside the gates of Congress.
Following President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's issuance of Proclamation 1017 on February 25, 2006 putting the entire country under a state of national emergency, state security forces have cracked down on legitimate dissent in violation of the bill of rights of the Philippine Constitution. The police raided and stationed its personnel in the offices and printing facilities of The Daily Tribune, an opposition newspaper critical of the Pres. Arroyo, a clear attack on press freedom. Police officers also warned media about covering 'opposition' activities, threatened journalists with charges of inciting to sedition should they violate government 'standards' or guidelines. Pres. Arroyo also announced the prohibition of any protest rally or public assembly with the unilateral and blanket cancellation of all rally permits, in violation of the constitutional right to assembly. The government then attacked us, progressive parliamentarians and our parties, on the mere suspicion that we connived with communist rebels and mutinous soldiers in trying to bring down the Arroyo government.
On Feb. 25, one of our colleagues, Rep. Crispin Beltran of the Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Party, was arrested and detained by police despite the lack of any charge or warrant of arrest. He remains detained in the national headquarters of the Philippine National Police (PNP) despite his failing health (he is 73 years old and just recently suffered a mild stroke).
On that same morning, policemen armed with high powered rifles blocked the vehicle of Rep. Satur Ocampo minutes after a press conference of the House Minority. Luckily, he was able to evade this illegal and warrantless arrest, as did Representatives Casiño, Maza and Mariano who also attended the press conference but exited through a back door. The state security forces that swooped down on us did not have any arrest warrant and could not even inform our lawyer what we were being charged with. Rep. Joel Virador was seized and manacled by the police while he was about to board his flight to Manila to attend Congress sessions.
Thus, on Feb. 28, the entire House of Representatives, recognizing that probable cause has yet to be established in our case, unanimously approved House Resolution 1169, a bipartisan resolution reaffirming our right to due process and giving us "protective custody" absent any judicially issued warrant of arrest resulting from a preliminary investigation or indictment. Unfortunately, the Arroyo government, specifically its National Police, has disregarded this very basic right and insists that once we get out of our offices, we will be arrested even without warrant in clear violation of our rights under the Constitution and various laws.
President Arroyo lifted Proclamation 1017 on 3 March 2006 but the government has maintained its position to arrest us should we step out of Congress.
We have always been critical of the human rights record of the military. The charge that we consorted with a section of the military to launch a coup d'etat against President Arroyo is a complete falsehood. In fact, the Arroyo government has failed to prove not only our involvement in the supposed coup plot but the existence of a coup attempt. The fact that Pres. Arroyo tried to arrest us without judicially issued warrants of arrest shows the lack of evidence on her part to prove such allegations.
Friends and colleagues,this is martial law making a comeback in the Philippines. We, and many other critics of Pres. Arroyo, are being subjected to political persecution and physical attack because of our political beliefs that run contrary to those held by Pres. Arroyo. Our leading participation in the impeachment process and raising the question on the legitimacy of Pres. Arroyo's electoral victory, our relentless fight against corruption and government abuse, and our advocacy for civil liberties and human rights have made us "enemies of the state", as far as the Arroyo government is concerned.
Aside from us, 45 other individuals have been charged with rebellion. Six of them are known personalities of the legal, progressive people's movement since the Marcos dictatorship, including Nathanael Santiago, the secretary general of Bayan Muna (People First) party. The editor-publisher of the Tribune has been charged with inciting to sedition despite the supposed lifting of emergency rule. We appeal to you, our fellow parliamentarians and friends in the international community. Help us assert our right against political persecution, to perform our legislative functions and our duty to check the abuse of executive power. Help us in our fight against the return of martial rule in the Philippines. We urge you to please do the following:
1. Raise this issue in your parliament and urge your government to condemn, take action or at least express concern on the ongoing crackdown of progressive parliamentarians and parties in the Philippines;
2. Raise this issue in international bodies such as the UN, The Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) and other bodies concerned with parliamentarians and human rights and urge the adoption of a resolution expressing the strongest concern over this attack on the legislature and
3. Human rights: Write to the following to express your opposition to the unjust restraint imposed on our liberties and our threatened warrantless arrest. Please make a specific appeal to FREE Rep. Crispin Beltran for the violation of his rights and on humanitarian grounds:
Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Malacanang Palace, Manila Philippines
Fax: +632 7361010
Landline No: +632 7355359 / +632 7361076
E-mail address: email@example.com
PNP Dir. Gen. Arturo Lumibao
Camp Crame, Quezon City Philippines
Fax No. +632 7248763
Tel. No. +632 7264361 / +632 7264365
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sec. Raul Gonzales
Department of Justice
P. Faura St., Manila, Philippines
Fax No. +632 5211614
Telephone No.+632 5238481 to 89
Sec. Alberto Romulo
Department of Foreign Affairs
P. Faura St., Manila, Philippines Landline No: +632 8344000 / +632 8343010
Sec. Avelino Cruz
Department of National Defense Camp Aguinaldo, Edsa, Quezon City
Fax No: +632 9116213
Landline No: +632 9116001 to 20
Website: www.dnd.gov.ph Email address: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
4. Express your views on this issue to the media. We will appreciate it if you can inform us of the action you have taken on this appeal. You may reply at this email address or contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org, telefax number: +632 9511027.
Thank you so much.
In solidarity and struggle,
(Sgd.) Rep. Satur C . Ocampo
(Sgd.) Rep. Crispin "Ka Bel" Beltran
Bayan Muna (Peoples First Party)
(Sgd.) Rep. Rafael Mariano
Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Party
(Sgd.) Rep. Teodoro Casiño
Bayan Muna (Peoples Firt Party)
(Sgd.) Rep. Joel Virador
Bayan Muna (Peoples First Party)
(Sgd.) Rep. Liza Maza Bayan
(Gabriela Women's Party)
Issued by: CLEMENTE BAUTISTA
Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE)
No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy, Central, Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Tel. No. +63-2-9248756 Fax No. +63-2-9209099
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com