IPU Logo-middleInter-Parliamentary Union  
IPU Logo-bottomChemin du Pommier 5, C.P. 330, CH-1218 Le Grand-Saconnex/Geneva, Switzerland  


Resolution unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 182nd session
(Cape Town, 18 April 2008)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Mr. Crispin Beltran, Mr. Saturniño Ocampo, Mr. Joel Virador, Mr. Teodoro Casiño, Ms. Liza Maza and Mr. Rafael Mariano, who, apart from the latter, are all incumbent members of the House of Representatives of the Philippines, as outlined in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/182/12(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 181st session (October 2007),

Referring also to the Committee's report on its mission to the Philippines carried out from 18 to 21 April 2007,

Taking into account the information and documents provided by the source at the hearing held on the occasion of the 118th IPU Assembly (April 2008),

Recalling that on 1 June 2007 the Supreme Court dismissed the rebellion charges that had been brought in February 2006 against the incumbent and former parliamentarians concerned as being politically motivated and that, as a result, Mr. Crispin Beltran, who had been arrested on 25 February 2006, was released; that those charges had been brought by the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG), set up for the purpose of targeting perceived or supposed enemies of the State, and that the political parties to which the parliamentarians concerned belong and they themselves are regarded as such by that Group,

Recalling that, during the Committee's mission, the Assistant Chief State Prosecutor stated that the incitement to sedition case, which had initially been brought against Mr. Beltran, had been quashed; considering in this respect, however, that while the judge at the time had set aside his arraignment in this case on the ground of a pending motion for cancellation of arraignment, a new judge, Judge Manuel Sta. Cruz, on 10 July 2007, decided that the case against him should be continued and ordered his immediate arraignment, despite the pending appeal against the court order to proceed with the case; that Mr. Beltran has moved for the nullification of his arraignment and for the recusal of the judge; recalling that Mr. Beltran strongly denies having made the alleged seditious statement at a rally on 24 February 2006, a fact which media coverage and witness statements could easily prove, but that the prosecution dismissed this defence argument during the inquest proceedings,

Recalling further that, on 16 February 2007, a multiple murder case was brought against Mr. Ocampo and others, that he was arrested on 16 March 2007 and subsequently released on bail by the Supreme Court on 3 April 2007 pending the Court's decision on his petition for certiorari and prohibition; noting that the Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the petition,

Recalling that, 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, allegedly conspired together and planned the elimination of the supporters of another political party, Akbayan, an accusation which they strongly refute; considering that while the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) dismissed the disqualification petitions for “lack of merit”, the murder case is proceeding and that the panel of public prosecutors submitted it for resolution on 14 November 2007; that, according to the sources, the due process rights of the defendants have been seriously violated in the preliminary investigation insofar as the prosecutors denied their request for a clarification hearing, which was necessary in their view to establish the identity of the complainants who appeared with covered faces throughout the investigation phase, to clarify inconsistencies in their statements, and to verify whether their statements were voluntary since they are in the custody and under the control of the military; noting that the cases were submitted for resolution by the prosecution on 14 November 2007 and that, although public prosecutors are required to resolve cases within 60 days after their submission for resolution, this has still not occurred,

Considering that, on 17 May 2007, Mr. Casiño was charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly preventing the arrest of an alleged CPP/NPA member, Mr. Vincent Borja; noting in this respect, however, that according to the sources, given the incidence of extrajudicial executions and abductions implicating the military, Mr. Casiño wanted to ensure respect for the right to liberty and security of the person concerned for whom the soldiers, who were not in uniform, had no arrest warrant, by asking the soldiers to present a warrant and accompany the arrested person to a military camp until he was transferred to the police; the Office of the City Prosecutor has yet to give its ruling on the matter,

Considering lastly that in March 2008 a petition for Writ of Amparo was filed against top officials of the CPP and Mr. Ocampo, which is pending at the Regional Trial Court of Basey, Western Samar, Branch 30, in connection with the alleged abduction of Ms. Elizabeth Gutierrez by communist rebels on 24 October 2007; a Writ of Amparo is designed to providing victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances the protection they need and the promise of vindication for their rights; however, according to the source, the petition in this case has been filed with strong intervention from the military or State forces with the intention to abuse the use of the Writ of Amparo; in this respect, Lt. Col. Jonathan Ponce, Commanding Officer of 67th Infantry Battalion was quoted as saying: “This [the petition] could be a test case of the effectivity of the Writ of Amparo.  They have used this against us. We will apply the same to them.”,

Bearing in mind that, in the report on his mission to the Philippines, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions recommended inter alia that the IALAG be abolished, that the criminal justice system refocus on the investigation and prosecution of those committing extrajudicial executions and other serious crimes, and that the Supreme Court exercise its constitutional powers over the practice of law to impress upon prosecutors that they have a duty to the public to uphold and protect human rights by acting to ensure the effective investigation of cases and protection of witnesses, and that they should provide reasoned decisions for probable cause determinations,

  1. Remains deeply concerned at the various criminal cases still pending against the parliamentarians concerned, in particular the fact that a new case had been brought against Representative Casiño for what appears to have been merely his attempt to prevent an arbitrary arrest and ensure compliance with the law, which constitutes nothing more than exercising his duty as a member of parliament; is also concerned that a Writ of Amparo is now allegedly being used in bad faith against Mr. Ocampo;

  2. Fears, given the political motivation behind the previous rebellion charges brought against the parliamentarians, that all these proceedings are part of an ongoing effort by the Government, inter alia through IALAG, aimed at removing them and their political parties from the democratic political process;

  3. Remains confident that, in dealing with these cases, the prosecution and judicial authorities will abide by their duty not to proceed with any case on the basis of political considerations, recalls in this respect the Supreme Court's ruling in the rebellion case in which it reiterated “the importance of maintaining the integrity of criminal prosecutions in general and preliminary investigations in particular” and stated the following: “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”

  4. Wishes to be kept informed of the proceedings in the cases in question, including, where appropriate, through the intermediary of a trial observer;

  5. Calls on the House of Representatives to exercise its oversight power and to monitor closely the proceedings in the cases in question in order to ensure due administration of justice;

  6. Also calls on the authorities, and in particular on both houses of Parliament, to ensure follow-up to the recommendations of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and would appreciate information on parliamentary action taken to this end;

  7. Notes finally that Mr. Joel Virador, who is no longer a member of parliament, has no further charges pending against him; consequently decides to close his case;

  8. Requests the Secretary General to convey this decision to the competent authorities, including the National Human Rights Commission, and to the other parties concerned;

  9. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 119th Assembly of the IPU (Geneva, October 2008).
Note: you can download a complete electronic version of the brochure "Results of the 118th IPU Assembly and related meetings" in PDF format (file size 547K approximately). This version requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, which you can download free of charge.Get Acrobat Reader