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Resolution unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 181st session
(Geneva, 10 October 2007)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Mr. Crispin Beltran, Mr. Saturnino Ocampo, Mr. Joel Virador, Mr. Teodoro Casiño, Ms. Liza Maza and Mr. Rafael Mariano, all members of the House of Representatives of the Philippines at the time of the facts, as outlined in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/181/11(a)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 180th session (May 2007),

Referring to theCommittee's report on its mission to the Philippines (CL/181/11(a)-R.3) carried out from 18 to 21 April 2007 and noting that that neither the authorities nor the sources have made comments on it,

Recalling the following:

  • In February 2006, charges of rebellion were brought against the parliamentarians concerned; they had been prepared by the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group, established by President Arroyo in January 2006 to prepare cases of rebellion and sedition against suspected enemies of the State; while Mr. Beltran was arrested on 25 February 2006, albeit on inciting-to-sedition and not rebellion charges, which were brought only later against him, the other five parliamentarians concerned were able to seek the protective custody of the House of Representatives, which they were granted on 27 February 2006; when the charges, which meanwhile had been amended, were dismissed by the court on 4 May 2006, the five parliamentarians left the House; however, Mr. Beltran remained in detention on the pretext that rebellion was a "continuing crime" and a non-bailable offence; on 11 May 2006, a new rebellion case, largely based on the previous one, was brought against them; it was stayed upon a Status Quo Order issued by the Supreme Court on 5 June 2006;

  • On 16 February 2007, a multiple murder charge was brought against Representative Ocampo on the ground that, in the mid-1980s, he had allegedly given orders to execute military spies within the Communist Party of the Philippines (Leyte murder case); Mr. Ocampo was arrested on 16 March 2007 and released on bail by the Supreme Court on 3 April 2007 pending the Court's decision on his petition for certiorari and prohibition; Mr. Ocampo strongly refutes the accusation, pointing out among other things that at the time in question he was in fact in military detention and that the testimony on which the charges are based is perjured;

  • In January 2007, a disqualification case was brought against the political parties of the parliamentarians concerned on the basis of yet another murder case (Nueva Ecija case) whereby the parliamentarians concerned, apart from Mr. Beltran, had conspired and planned the liquidation of the supporters of another political party, Akbayan, an accusation which they strongly refute as lies and false allegations,
Considering the following new developments:
  • On 1 June 2007, the Supreme Court dismissed the rebellion charges against the parliamentarians concerned, concluding that "the obvious involvement of political considerations in the actuations of respondent Secretary of Justice and respondent prosecutors brings to mind an observation we made in another equally politically charged case. We reiterate what we stated then, if only to emphasize the importance of maintaining the integrity of criminal prosecutions in general and preliminary investigations in particular. We cannot emphasize too strongly that prosecutors should not allow, and should avoid, giving the impression that their noble office is being used or prostituted, wittingly or unwittingly, for political ends … "; on 12 June 2007 the Government filed a motion for reconsideration of the Court's decision, which the Supreme Court, on 2 July 2007, "resolved to deny with finality"; the Court also ordered Congressman Beltran's release, which order was executed on 10 July 2007;

  • On 1 June 2007, that is to say after the 14 May 2007 legislative elections, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) dismissed for "lack of merit" the disqualification cases filed against Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela Women's Party; however, the murder case against Representatives Ocampo, Maza, Casiño and Mariano, which was the basis of the - dismissed -  disqualification petitions is still under way; in July 2007 the prosecutor of Nueva Ecija in charge of the case ordered them to file their counter-affidavits, which they did in August 2007 along with petitions for a clarification hearing,
Considering that the Supreme Court has not yet ruled either on the petition for certiorari seeking to set aside the decision of the prosecution finding probable cause against Representative Ocampo in the multiple murder case pending before the Regional Leyte trial court or on the petition for the issuance of a temporary restraining order to enjoin and restrain the Department of Justice and Police from conducting further proceedings in this case,

Considering that, contrary to the information provided to the delegation during its on-site mission that the inciting-to-sedition case against Representative Beltran was quashed in 2006 (mission report 2.2.6), the case is reportedly still pending in court,

Considering lastly that Representatives Ocampo, Casiño, Maza and Beltran were re-elected in May 2007,

  1. Thanks the delegation for the written report and fully endorses its concluding remarks;

  2. Notes with satisfaction the dismissal of the rebellion case and the disqualification cases brought against the political parties of the parliamentarians concerned, and is pleased that Mr. Crispin Beltran has now been released and resumed his parliamentary activity;

  3. Notes with concern, however, that the Commission of Elections (COMELEC) ruled on the disqualification case only once the elections were over; fears that the uncertainty thus created may have influenced voters' decisions, and invites therefore COMELEC to consider reviewing its procedure in disqualification cases so as to enable it to decide on disqualification petitions well in advance of the elections and thus to rule out any doubts as to the qualification of electoral contenders;

  4. Notes that the multiple murder case against Mr. Ocampo is still pending, and is confident that the Supreme Court will rule as quickly as possible on the petitions pending before it in this matter;

  5. Notes also that the murder charges in Nueva Ecija brought against Representatives Ocampo, Maza, Casiño and Mariano are being pursued, and notes in this respect further that COMELEC disregarded these charges as the basis for a petition to disqualify the persons concerned and their parties in the May 2007 elections; is confident that, in dealing with this case, the prosecution and judicial authorities will comply with their duty not to proceed with any case on the basis of mere political considerations, and wishes to be kept informed of the proceedings in this case, including, if appropriate, through the services of a trial observer;

  6. Is concerned that the inciting-to-sedition case against Representative Beltran may still be pending before court, and wishes to receive clarification in this respect;

  7. Decides to close the further examination of this case as far as the rebellion case is concerned; requests, however, the Committee to follow closely the other proceedings which are still under way and to report to it at its next session, to be held during the 118th Assembly of the IPU (Cape Town, April 2008).
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