Yesterday, June 1, the Supreme Court of the Philippines issued a ruling that ordered the dismissal of the rebellion charges filed by the Arroyo government against six partylist Members of Congress representing marginalized and underrepresented sectors.
The court also chastised the local courts, prosecutors and the justice secretary for injecting political considerations into the proceedings, turning them into a sham.
The court’s decision should immediately spell freedom for Congressman Crispin Beltran, chair emeritus of the Kilusang Mayo Uno and chief partylist representative of Anakpawis, who has been detained since Feb. 25, 2006.
The persecution of Reps. Teddy Casino, Joel Virador, Liza Maza, Rafael Mariano, Ocampo and Beltran were widely perceived as political vendetta over the six solons’ prominent roles in the oust-Arroyo movement.
Beltran’s detention has become one major lightning rod of global criticism over President Arroyo’s intolerance and abusive record. The others are the extrajudicial executions, the enforced disappearances, the harassment of Ocampo and the entire Batasan 6 case.
I hope the six representatives and the six other activist leaders who were once hunted down during the madness that was the “state of national emergency” will once again freely and without molestation be allowed full exercise of their rights as citizens. The Arroyo government must respect their rights and stop the disgusting practice of filing fabricated charges courtesy of unintelligent intelligence officers of the military and conniving state prosecutors.
I am also elated that Ka Bel’s probable release on Monday (or Tuesday, depending on what the government intends to do at the same time) will give him three or four more days to perform his duties as duly-elected partylist representative. Ka Bel has clearly stated yesterday that he will push the passage of the P125 wage hike bill and expressed hope that Congress will seriously consider it.
Ignacio Bunye and Raul Gonzalez have conflicting views on what to do next. Bunye chided thea ruling and says that a motion for reconsideration ought to be filed before the Supreme Court. Gonzalez says “bayaan mo na siya”.
What is abominable in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision is how the officials of government appear to be remorseless over the grave crime that they did to Ka Bel. They have not expressed sorry, have not admitted misusing the law to suppress legislators and citizens, and have not apologized to the Supreme Court and the public for trying to use the courts as a machinery to exact political vendetta.
In statements quoted by a news site, State Prosecutor Emmanuel Velasco said that he and the other members of the prosecuting panel merely followed the law when they charged the Batasan 6 in court and when they did an inquest on Beltran, among their many questionable acts. Wala siyang modo at walang pagkilala sa desisyon ng kataas-taasang hukuman na nagsabi na pulos mali ang kanilang ginawa.
According to Velasco, it was all part of the job. What job? Political persecution?
On Monday, when Congress assembles for the last three or four days of its last regular session, we hope to see the Batasan 6 reunite inside the House of Representatives and be a beacon of hope in this time of gloom.
Their victory is ours too.
(Photo taken by Bayan Muna after the sham preliminary investigation at the Department of Justice last year.)