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Resolution unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 183rd session
(Geneva, 15 October 2008)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Mr. Crispin Beltran, Mr. Saturniño Ocampo, Mr. Teodoro Casiño, Ms. Liza Maza and Mr. Rafael Mariano, who, apart from the latter, are 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/183/12(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 182nd session (April 2008),

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 communication sent by the Executive Director/Inter-Parliamentary Relations and Special Affairs Department of the House of Representatives, dated 14 July 2008, as well as the information provided by one of the sources on 16 July and 2 October 2008,

Noting that Mr. Crispin Beltran died on 20 May 2008 following an accident and that Mr. Rafael Mariano, who had not been re-elected in the March 2007 elections, has assumed Mr. Beltran's mandate,

Recalling that on 1 June 2007 the Supreme Court dismissed the rebellion charges brought in February 2006 against the parliamentarians concerned as being politically motivated; that those charges had been brought by the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG), set up by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in January 2006 to ensure effective handling of investigative and prosecutorial aspects of the fight against threats to national security, and that the political parties to which the parliamentarians concerned belong and they themselves are regarded as such by that Group,

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 Representatives Ocampo, Casiño, Maza and Mariano (the “Batasan Four”) allegedly conspired together and planned the elimination of the supporters of another political party, Akbayan, which accusation they strongly refute; that while the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) dismissed the disqualification petitions for “lack of merit”, the murder case is proceeding; 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 check 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 on 18 April 2008 two counts of murder (having allegedly conspired in the murder of one Carlito Bayudang and one Jimmy Peralta) were filed in the Regional Trial Court of Palayan City, and one count of kidnapping and murder of one Danilo Felipe in the Regional Trial Court of Guimba; that, on 21 April 2008, the parliamentarians concerned filed a motion for judicial determination of probable cause with prayer to dismiss the case outright, pointing to the grounds warranting the dismissal of the case; that on 5 August 2008 the Regional Trial Court of Guimba ordered the dismissal of the charge of kidnapping with murder, having found the extrajudicial confessions of prosecution witnesses to be inadmissible evidence; that, however, the Regional Trial Court of Palayan City did not dismiss the two murder charges pending before it even though they are based on the same evidence adduced in the kidnapping with murder case and ordered the provincial prosecutor to conduct a new preliminary investigation; on 26 September 2008, the court denied a motion for partial reconsideration of that order,

Recalling that, on 17 May 2007, Mr. Casiño was charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly preventing the arrest of a presumed Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army (CPP/NPA) member, Mr. Vincent Borja; that, however, according to the sources, given the incidence of extrajudicial executions and abductions in which the military are involved, 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 accompanying the arrested person to a military camp until he was transferred to the police; that Mr. Casiño filed his counter-affidavit on 27 June 2007, after which a clarificatory hearing was conducted; however, the prosecution has still not given its conclusions on the case,

Recalling lastly that on 17 March 2008 a petition for Writ of Amparo ‑ an extraordinary and peremptory writ to safeguard the constitutional rights of the people to life, liberty and security ‑ promulgated by the Supreme Court in October 2007, 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 and one Dennis Gutierrez by communist rebels on 24 October 2007; noting that Rep. Ocampo filed his answer to the petition on 9 March 2008 and that the hearing of the case, initially set for 27 August 2008, was postponed to 4 November 2008,

Considering that, in a meeting she had with the Committee in July 2008, the Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Geneva stressed that, since the cases in question were pending before the court, the Mission would not comment on them; that, however, one should bear in mind that the rights of the victims also had to be respected and that some of the cases in question, such as the triple murder case (Nueva Ecija case), were not filed by the State but by the widows of the slain persons; that, moreover, the parliamentarians concerned had filed perjury cases in this respect; that, as regards the report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, to which the IPU referred in its resolution of April 2008, it was in the Government's view highly biased; and noting in this respect that the “Consolidated Reply of the Government of the Philippines to the Alston Report”, a copy of which the Permanent Representative provided, states in paragraphs 104, 105 and 107 that IALAG is guided by the policy “that all of its initiatives and tasks shall at [all] times be conducted with utmost respect for the fundamental human rights of due process, equal protection, and the rule of the law”,

Considering lastly that the House of Representatives has adopted a series of resolutions to inquire into politically motivated killings, summary executions and enforced disappearances, urging the Government inter alia to immediately sign and ratify the United Nations International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance; that in Resolution 118, it directed the House Committee on Civil, Political and Human Rights inter alia to “conduct an investigation into the various forms of human rights violations and attacks against members and leaders of Anakpawis Party-list and other progressive parties and organizations … and to put an end to political repression of the party lists they belong to”,

  1. Thanks the House of Representatives and the Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations Office in Geneva for their cooperation;

  2. Recalls that the rebellion charges, which were initially filed against the parliamentarians concerned by IALAG after nine months of preparation, were finally dismissed by the Supreme Court as clearly being politically motivated, which casts doubt on IALAG‘s “utmost respect for the fundamental human rights of due process, equal protection, and the rule of law”; recalls that, likewise, a petition to bar the political parties to which the parliamentarians concerned belong from standing in the last elections was dismissed by the Commission on Elections for lack of merit;

  3. Has therefore grounds to remain concerned at the new criminal cases brought against the parliamentarians in question, especially in the light of the serious allegations that the charges have been fabricated and due process is not being observed, as these proceedings may well be part of an ongoing effort to remove them and their political parties from the democratic political process;

  4. Expresses particular concern at the considerable delay in the prosecution's efforts to resolve the “obstruction of justice” case against Representative Casiño, which was filed more than one year ago and has not proceeded at all; fears that such delay may well denote the absence of a case, and urges the authorities either to drop the charges forthwith or to try Representative Casiño diligently with due respect for all fair trial guarantees;

  5. Is, moreover, concerned at the differing views of the courts on the admissibility of extrajudicially obtained confessions as evidence; would appreciate receiving information as to the rules on the admissibility of evidence in Philippine law;

  6. Strongly recalls that, in dealing with these cases, the prosecution and judicial authorities have a duty not to proceed with any case on the basis of political considerations; once again recalls in this respect the Supreme Court ruling in the rebellion case in which the Court 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”;

  7. Reiterates its wish to be kept informed of the proceedings in the cases in question, including, where appropriate, through the intermediary of a trial observer;

  8. Sincerely hopes that the initiatives taken by the House of Representatives to ensure respect for human rights and the rule of law will succeed, and would appreciate receiving information on the inquiry entrusted to the House Committee on Civil, Political and Human Rights to investigate the various forms of human rights violations targeting progressive party list representatives;

  9. Notes finally the accidental death of Mr. Crispin Beltran and decides to close his case;

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

  11. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 120th Assembly of the IPU (April 2009).

1 - Mr. Beltran died on 20 May 2008.
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