Philippines: SC potentially strong ally in fight vs repression — Beltran

Jun. 07, 2007

MANILA — Detained Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran lauded the declaration of Chief Justice Reynato Puno that the Supreme Court will use its power to protect civil liberties. He said that the Chief Justice has already begun doing so when the SC junked the rebellion charges against the Batasan 6. Beltran expressed hope that given CJ Puno’s vow, the SC will also immediately make this decision final and executory and allow his (Beltran’s) release from detention at the soonest possible time, even as the office of the solicitor general files an appeal.

Beltran’s lawyers yesterday filed a motion at the High Court appealing for their client’s immediate release.

Beltran said that the continuing political persecution of the lawmakers, officials and members of the progressive party-lists and militant people’s organizations were serious attacks against human rights and civil liberties. He said that thankfully, the SC has recently been vocal on the matter through CJ Puno’s declarations and public statements.

“The SC under CJ Puno can prove to be a formidable ally in the fight for justice against the executive and the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ worsening attacks against civil liberties and democratic rights of ordinary Filipinos. Malacanang has given nothing but milk and water pronouncements that it is doing its best to curb the politically-motivated violence against human rights activists and members of the progressive party-lists. We hope that the SC will issue more forceful statements backed by the law and more importantly, lay down rulings that will Malacanang and the AFP in their place,” he said.

He sought the Supreme Court’s intervention on the issue of extra-judicial killings and Pres. Arroyo refusal to hold the AFP and the military institution accountable for them. He also said that the High Court will also soon facing a challenge as civil libertarians and human rights groups escalate protests against the Human Security Act or the anti-terrorism law will be effective beginning July.

“The HSA is so far the biggest and most comprehensive threat against the already battered civil and human rights of Filipinos. We look up to Chief Justice Puno’s leadership when it comes to questioning and opposing this lawand preventing its abusive implementation,” he said.

In the meantime, Beltran also said that CJ Puno would do well to look into the latest tactic of Malacanang to circumvent the law by issuing Memorandum Circular 108 which requires both the Senate and the House of Representatives to provide the Palace before hand the list of questions they will ask cabinet officials and other personnel.

“Malacanang circumvented the SC’s decision on the gag order Executive Order 464 which had the same intent as MC 108. The High Court declared EO 464 unconstitutional when the senate challenged this presidential ban. It’s clear that Pres. Macapagal-Arroyo is highly apprehensive and rightly so about the incoming senate which is dominated by the opposition. Pres. Arroyo and her handlers are desperately trying to stonewall and establish protective measures to secure themselves and all confidential staff and cabinet officials from being exposed in congressional investigations,” he said.

“If the Macapagal-Arroyo government truly has nothing to hide, it should have nothing to fear from any senate-initiate investigation. Government officials should not fear public and administrative accountability if they were not dabbling in corruption or committing violations of the civil service code.”

“Eexcutive secretary Eduardo Ermita is trying to justify this latest gag order memorandum by citing nationals security, but in fact it’s not the nation’s security that Malacanang aims to protect, it’s the president’s precarious political standing,” he said. #

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