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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 190th session
(Kampala, 5 April 2012)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the cases of Mr. Saturniño Ocampo, Mr. Teodoro Casiño, Ms. Liza Maza and Mr. Rafael Mariano (the so-called Batasan Four), incumbent members of the House of Representatives of the Philippines at the time the communication was submitted, and to the resolution adopted at its 189th session (October 2011),

Taking into account the letters from the Executive Director of the Inter-Parliamentary Relations and Special Affairs Bureau of the House of Representatives, dated 10 January and 12 March 2012,

Recalling that the persons concerned were, along with others, prosecuted on a charge of rebellion that was dismissed in June 2007 by the Supreme Court of the Philippines as unfounded and politically motivated; that soon after the case was dismissed, new charges were laid against them and have been pending ever since, as follows:

  • Multiple murder charges were brought against the Batasan Four in 2007; one of these charges (of murder with kidnapping) was dismissed on account of inadmissible evidence (extrajudicially obtained confessions); the prosecutor proceeded with the other charges although they are based on the same inadmissible evidence; a challenge brought by the Batasan Four on the grounds of grave abuse of discretion has been pending before the Supreme Court since March 2009;

  • A new charge of murder was brought against Mr. Ocampo in 2007, and his petition to have the case dismissed for lack of evidence remains pending before the Supreme Court (Leyte murder case);

  • A charge of obstructing justice was brought against Mr. Casiño in May 2007 on the grounds that he had prevented an arrest; Mr. Casiño affirms that he prevented plainclothes armed police from arresting someone without an arrest warrant; the case is still awaiting resolution by the prosecutor;

  • A multiple murder charge, concerning cases already dealt with in the context of the rebellion case, was brought against Mr. Ocampo in March 2008; the proceedings have been suspended pending the decision of the Supreme Court in the Leyte murder case;

  • The only case which seems to be proceeding concerns a charge of abduction filed against Mr. Ocampo in March 2008, as the trial was set to start in June 2011 with the taking of petitioner’s testimony in court; the update on the cases provided by the House of Representatives does not mention whether or not the case is indeed proceeding,
Recalling that the Secretary of Justice of the Philippines, in her earlier letters, has consistently affirmed that, under the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino, due process will be respected and all actions and decisions will be based on the rule of law, and that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, in his letter of 8 August 2011, likewise affirmed that the rule of law and due process would prevail in the resolution of the cases of the Batasan Four,
  1. Thanks the Executive Director of the Inter-Parliamentary Relations and Special Affairs Bureau for the information provided;

  2. Is nevertheless deeply concerned that the competent authorities have yet to address the prolonged stalemate affecting the cases in question; recalls that the right to be tried without undue delay is an element of the right to fair trial enshrined in the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights, to which the Philippines is party, and that it is designed to ensure people are not kept in a state of uncertainty about their fate for too long; reaffirms that this is particularly important in the case of members of parliament, for whom a prolonged state of uncertainty inevitably serves to impair the ability freely to exercise their parliamentary mandate;

  3. Remains particularly concerned about the absence of any developments in the obstruction of justice case against Mr. Casiño, which has now been pending for almost five years and about which the prosecution remains unresolved, and about the failure to dismiss the kidnapping with murder case even though it is reportedly based on evidence declared inadmissible in another case;

  4. Reiterates its wish to receiveofficial information in this regard, as it is difficult to understand how the prosecution can remain resolved about a case such as the one against Mr. Casiño for almost five years, and how the courts can come to different conclusions regarding the inadmissibility as evidence of extrajudicial confessions;

  5. Sincerely hopes that the stated commitment of President Aquino’s administration to the rule of law and due process will also help bring about a speedy and just resolution of the judicial proceedings in this case; wishes in this respect once again to recall the Supreme Court’s statement, in its ruling in the rebellion case, emphasizing "the importance of maintaining the integrity of criminal prosecution in general and preliminary investigations in particular" and hence of preventing the justice system from being used for political ends;

  6. Requests the Secretary General to forward this resolution to the parliamentary authorities, to the Secretary of Justice and to the National Human Rights Commission;

  7. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and to report to it at its next session, to be held during the 127th IPU Assembly (October 2012).
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