DISAPPOINTED by the government’s “inability” to allow the release of Anakpawis party-list Representative Crispin Beltran, supporters of the labor leader yesterday vowed to step up campaigns for his freedom.

Anakpawis Rep. Crispin BeltranTeam Unity senatorial candidate Joker Arroyo himself said that he “is waging a campaign for Ka Bel within the government.” Arroyo, one of the speakers at an international forum organized by the Free Ka Bel Movement, stressed that “the arrest of Beltran was illegal” and that he was merely incarcerated because of his “trade-unionism.”

Beltran was arrested February last year on a 21-year-old “outstanding warrant of arrest” for allegedly committing the crime of inciting to rebellion. Beltran now has three cases filed against him, two on rebellion charges and one on inciting to sedition. He remains under detention at the Philippine Heart Center.

“I cannot fathom certain elements in the system,” Arroyo said, explaining that the courts should have granted Beltran’s petition for bail, as in the case of former Senator Gringo Honasan who faces similar rebellion charges. “Ka Bel is disadvantaged.”

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), an international association of parliaments of which the Philippines is a member, has also repeatedly intervened to pressure the Philippine government to allow Beltran to be released.

In a recent meeting between IPU Secretary General Anders Johnsson and National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, the government agreed to grant Beltran a temporary release. But up to now, Gonzales and the Office of the Soliticor General have not acted on the agreement. A petition for his release also remains pending before the Supreme Court.

During the forum, labor groups from countries like Australia, United States, Belgium, and United Kingdom also called for the release of Beltran. These groups vowed to intensify campaigns against the government’s unfair treatment of Beltran, the ongoing political persecution of leftist groups, and other human rights abuses in the country.

In Australia, student organizations have staged a series of protests before the Philippine Consulate. Another foreign counterpart, Robert McCauley of the Teamster Union of the United States, said that they are also engaging senators and House members to convince the U.S. government to “stop supporting the Philippine Army and pull the troops out of Mindanao” should the current administration continue to resist their calls.

Similarly, Johan Fonelets of Belgium said they now have 500 petitions signed by several unions in protest of Beltran’s detention.

Meanwhile, Bruce Van Vhooris of the Asian Human Rights Commission said the government “does not deserve to have a seat” in the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations Human Rights Council because it has “failed to protect the lives of Filipinos.”

Vhooris condemned the inaction of the Philippine National Police and Congress towards the political killings in the country.

According to him, the inaction of the government towards political persecution breeds impunity and prevents meaningful elections.

Aleli Mae Arcete is a junior mass communication student at the St. Scholastica’s College. She is doing her internship with the PCIJ.

1 Response to Gov’t sitting on Ka Bel’s temporary release


INSIDE PCIJ » SC rules in favor of Batasan 6; scores DOJ for lack of impartiality

June 1st, 2007 at 8:49 pm

[…] “The SC decision is an affirmation of our consistent and just assertions of innocence. Fifteen months is a long time to be detained on false charges and fabricated testimonies. Even one day is too long,” he said. (See related post.) […]

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