Press Release
May 25, 2006


The International Parliamentary Union (IPU), through its Committee on Human Rights, will continue to follow up the case of Anak-Pawis party-list Rep. Crispin Beltran whose immediate release from police detention it has sought from the Philippine government.

This was reported by Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) who took up the case of Beltran and five other party-list representatives who are facing rebellion and sedition charges during the 114th IPU conference in Nairobi, Kenya from May 7-14.

Acting on the recommendation of the Committee on Human Rights, the IPU, during the plenary session on May 12, approved a resolution in which it expressed deep concern over the arrest and detention of Beltran and urged the Philippine authorities to release him particularly in view of the state of his health and the fact that a Makati Regional Trial Court ordered his release in March 2006.

The IPU noted that Mr. Beltran was arrested on the basis of a legally invalid arrest warrant. It said only later in the day of his arrest were inciting to sedition charges brought against him, and that only two and eight days, respectively after his arrest were two charges of rebellion brought against him.

The sequence of events suggests that there is little evidence against him, the IPU said.

The organization further pointed out that no arrest warrants have reportedly been issued against Beltran as it questioned what was the legal basis for his continued detention.

According to the IPU, the principle of presumption of innocence must be respected, which implies that pre-trial detention should be the exception and as short as possible.

The IPU requested its secretary general to convey this resolution to the parliamentary and other competent authorities, inviting them to provide the requested information. It also asked the Committee on Human Rights to continue examining this case and report to the IPU at its next session to be held during the 115th IPU Assembly (in October, 2006).

In a written report to the Senate, Pimentel said he explained before the IPU Committee on Human Rights that Mr. Beltran was invited by law enforcement agents for questioning in connection with a rebellion case that was filed against him in 1985 during the Marcos authoritarian regime.

He said when President Ferdinand Marcos was deposed in 1986, Beltran was among the people amnestied by the Aquino administration. Thus, he said, there was no basis for holding Beltran liable for the so-called 1985 rebellion case.

Still, Beltran, who is now 73 years old and in bad health, is restrained of his liberty as he is still being detained in a police hospital amid reports that he was being charged with new cases of rebellion or sedition, Pimentel informed the IPU panel.

The whole case smacks of harassment because Beltran has not been afforded his right to be presumed innocent to confront the witnesses against him, to evaluate the evidence against him and to be granted bail if the evidence was not strong. Those rights are guaranteed in our Constitution and it appears that the administration has no compunction about ignoring those rights. By doing so, the administration is standing the Rule of Law on its head, Pimentel said.

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