Press Release
July 11, 2006

Drilon elected chairman of IPU Committee
on Human Rights of Parliamentarians

Senate President and Liberal Party head Franklin Drilon was elected yesterday, July 10, as chairman of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the prestigious international body that investigates violations of human rights of lawmakers throughout the world.

Drilon was elected to the post during the 114th session of the IPU Human Rights Committee that started in Geneva, Switzerland this week. He is the first Filipino legislator to be elected to the position since the IPU was established in 1889.

The IPU, the oldest multilateral political organization, brings together 146 affiliated Parliaments and seven associated regional assemblies. The world organization of parliaments maintains its headquarters in Geneva and has an office in New York. It serves as a Permanent Observer at the United Nations.

"It is a privilege to be elected chairman of the IPU Committee on Human Rights of Parliamentarians. I intend to give my best efforts to the worldwide campaign for the protection of members of the legislature. The respect for human rights, not only of Members of Parliament, but also of the ordinary citizen, is a basic pillar of democracy. We must all do our share to uphold civil and human rights," Drilon said.

The other members of the IPU Committee are Members of Parliament Zahia Banarous of Algeria, Fernando Margain Berlannga of Mexico, Sharon Carstairs of Canada, Maria Jose Laloy of Belguim, Kasam Jaiali of Iran and Baldo Prokurica of Chile.

The IPU Committee of Human Rights of Parliamentarians was established in 1976 and holds regular meetings four times a year, Drilon said. It was created to ensure that the human rights of the world's parliamentary community - composed of more than 40,000 members - are respected, he added.

In the past, the IPU Committee has contributed to resolving over 500 cases involving parliamentarians in 104 countries. The committee has also taken a direct hand in the investigation of controversial cases such as that of Malaysian former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy, Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and former presidential candidate of Guinea Alpha Conde.

Recently, Drilon disclosed, the IPU Committee received a complaint filed by the so-called "Philippine Batasan Five" who were threatened with arrest and detention by the Philippine National Police (PNP) under the Arroyo administration.

Also pending before the IPU Committee is the case of Anak-Pawis Party-list Representative who was arrested by the police several months ago. Beltran, along with the Batasan Five lawmakers, Party-list Representatives Satur Ocampo, Teodoro Casio, Joel Virador, Rafael Mariano and Liza Maza claimed their rights were being violated by the police for their opposition to repressive policies of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

"As in other cases in other parts of the world, the IPU Committee on Human Rights of the Parliamentarian will scrutinize these cases against Beltran and the Batasan Five. The Committee has investigated more severe cases in countries with repressive regimes where parliamentarians were being sentenced and imprisoned for legitimately exercising their freedom of speech, of assembly and of association," Drilon said.

Last year, Drilon was elected assembly president of the 112th General Assembly which was held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City and was attended by over 1,500 parliamentarians from over 45 countries. Prior to his election as president of the IPU assembly, Drilon was also a member of the IPU Executive Committee.

Drilon said the IPU has served as a focal point for world-wide parliamentary dialogue and works for peace and cooperation among peoples and for the firm establishment of representative democracy. It fosters contacts, coordination, and the exchange of experience among parliaments and parliamentarians of all countries; contributes to the defense and promotion of human rights and contributes to better knowledge of the working of representative institutions and to the strengthening and development of their means of action, he added.

Drilon said the IPU supports the efforts of the UN, whose objectives it shares, and works in close cooperation with it. It also cooperates with regional inter-parliamentary organizations, as well as with international intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations which are motivated by the same ideals.

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