MANILA — The Philippine Supreme Court today dismissed the rebellion cases against six leftist congressmen known as the “Batasan 6,” among them Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran who has been detained in the past 15 months, two of the lawmakers said in separate statements today.
Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, one of the Batasan 6, said the rebellion charge had been “trumped up” and that Beltran should be released from police custody anytime soon. No details on the decision is available at press time, although GMANews.tv reported that the high court found no sufficient evidence against the six.
The government has accused the six of conspiring with rightist elements to overthrow the government in February last year. Aside from Beltran and Ocampo, also charged were Bayan Muna Reps. Joel Virador and Teddy Casino, Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza, and Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano.
All are leaders of progressive groups in the Philippines and have accused the Arroyo administration of persecuting them for their prominent role in the anti-Arroyo movement. The lawmakers also suspect that the charges were part of the government’s plot to discredit them. Their partylist-list groups have consistently been topping the elections since 2001.
“We are vindicated. This is a triumph of truth and justice over the Arroyo government’s invented and unfair charge against duly elected people’s representatives,” Ocampo said in a statement.
“The Supreme Court has issued a most humane and just decision, and it is my hope that it will be immediately implemented,” said the 74-year-old Beltran, who has been in “hospital detention” since April 2006, first at the PNP General Hospital in Camp Crame and currently at the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City.
“We hope that none of the concerned parties that filed the charges against us will not foot drag on this matter and take positive response by releasing me from police custody,” Beltran said.
Ocampo chastised President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. “President Arroyo and her fascist cabal tried their worst to crush the progressive partylist bloc in Congress. They miserably failed. We still won in the elections and in Supreme Court.”
“The tribunal’s ruling affirms our position that the charges against us are all fabricated, based only on perjured testimonies, full of legal shortcuts and obviously politically motivated,” said Ocampo.
The government has been particularly hard on Ocampo, whom it accused of having ordered the murder of members of the New People’s Army during a purge within the communist movement in the ’80s. Ocampo denied the charge, saying he was in jail in Camp Crame at the time the alleged murders took place. In March, he was forcibly arrested and was scheduled to be taken to a village in Leyte, where a military-organized mob was waiting, when the plane he was on returned to Manila. He was later released.
The government also presented alleged former rebels who testified seeing the lawmakers meeting and plotting against the government, a charge the six likewise denied.
“This is a slap on the faces of President Arroyo and her two repressive agencies — the Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security led by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG) led by National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales — who have all conspired to demonize and persecute us because of our roles in the legal opposition and the mass movement,” Ocampo said.
“The COCIS and IALAG which are creations of President Arroyo were behind the trumped-up rebellion charges against us,” said Ocampo. “We continue to question the motivation of these two agencies as exposed in what they did to us.”Extrajudicial Killings