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Resolution unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 185th session
(Geneva, 21 October 2009)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Mr. Saturniño Ocampo, Mr. Teodoro Casiño, Ms. Liza Maza and Mr. Rafael Mariano, 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/185/11(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 184th session (April 2009),

Recalling that, in January 2006, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued Executive Order 493 establishing the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG) to prepare cases of rebellion and sedition against suspected enemies of the State, and that, in this context, the parliamentarians concerned were charged with rebellion in February 2006; that the Supreme Court dismissed the charges on 1 June and concluded that "the obvious involvement of political considerations in the accusations of the 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”,

Recalling that, in his report of 29 April 2009 (A/HRC/11/2/Add.8), the United Nations Special Rapporteur on enforced disappearances reiterated his earlier recommendation that the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG) be abolished,

Recalling lastly that, since the dismissal of the rebellion charges, new cases have been brought against the parliamentarians concerned, also called the “Batasan Four”, and considering their current stage:

  • The Leyte multiple murder case brought in February 2007 against Mr. Ocampo and others is still awaiting resolution of the petition for certiorari and prohibition he filed with the Supreme Court in March 2007;

  • On 19 May 2009, the prosecutor who is conducting the preliminary investigation in two murder cases, closely linked to the Leyte murder case, which were brought against Rep. Ocampo in August 2008, granted Rep. Ocampo’s petition to suspend the preliminary investigation in these cases pending resolution, by the Supreme Court, of his petition in the Leyte murder case;

  • On 18 April 2008, two counts of murder (having allegedly conspired in the murder of Carlito Bayudang and Jimmy Peralta) were filed in the Regional Trial Court of Palayan City against the four parliamentarians concerned, in addition to one count of kidnapping and murder of Danilo Felipe in the Regional Trial Court of Guimba; on 5 August 2008 the latter ordered that the charge of kidnapping with murder be dismissed, having found the extrajudicial confessions of prosecution witnesses to be inadmissible evidence; 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, and ordered the provincial prosecutor to conduct a new preliminary investigation; on 2 December 2008, the Court denied a motion for partial reconsideration of that order; on 27 March 2009, the parliamentarians concerned filed a petition with the Supreme Court challenging the orders of the Court imputing to the judge grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction; the Government has provided its comments on the petition, which is pending before the Supreme Court for resolution; the four Representatives have also filed perjury cases against the complainants in this case;

  • In May 2007, four days before the 14 May 2007 elections, Mr. Casiño was charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly preventing the arrest of Mr. Vincent Borja, a presumed member of the CPP/NPA; Mr. Casiño filed his counter-affidavit on 27 June 2007, after which a clarificatory hearing was conducted; the case is still awaiting resolution by the prosecutor although, according to the source, the Rules of Court require that within 10 days after the preliminary investigation, the investigating officer shall determine whether or not there are sufficient grounds to hold the respondent for trial;

  • In March 2008, a petition for Writ of Amparo was filed against top officials of the CPP and Mr. Ocampo, which is pending before the Regional Trial Court of Basey, Western Samar, in connection with alleged threats by communist rebels against the life, liberty and security of Dennis Gacuma, whose mother was reportedly abducted; Mr. Ocampo filed his answer to the petition; the first hearing of the case has been reset several times,
Recalling 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 sign and ratify forthwith 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 the 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 for its cooperation and for the information provided;

  2. Remains deeply concerned at the new cases laid against the Representatives concerned as the information brought to its attention tends to suggest that the accusations in question are not based on sound evidence;

  3. Points out in this respect in particular the failure of the prosecution to resolve the obstruction of justice case against Mr. Casiño brought against him more than two years ago, the filing of another murder case against Representative Ocampo, which is already part of the multiple murder case brought against him earlier, and hence in breach of the principle that no one shall be tried twice for the same offence (under the double jeopardy principle) and the differing treatment by courts of the admissibility of extrajudicially obtained confessions as evidence;

  4. Recalls in this connection once again that the rebellion charges, initially filed against them by IALAG following nine months of preparation, were finally dismissed by the Supreme Court as clearly being politically motivated; wishes to ascertain in this context what, if any, action has been taken to implement the recommendation of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on enforced disappearances to abolish the IALAG;

  5. Observes that the many cases brought against the parliamentarians concerned can only impair their capacity to exercise their parliamentary mandate freely and effectively, and is confident that the House of Representatives will continue to monitor the proceedings against the parliamentarians concerned;

  6. Urges the authorities once again either to proceed with the cases brought against the parliamentarians concerned diligently, as is their duty, or to drop the charges forthwith; reaffirms also that the prosecution and judicial authorities have a duty not to proceed with any case on the basis of political considerations;

  7. Requests the Secretary General to inform the competent authorities and the sources accordingly;

  8. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 122nd IPU Assembly (March-April 2010).
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