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British parliamentarians sign up vs illegal arrest of Ka Bel, political repression of Philippine solons

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From the Office of Anakpawis Representative Crispin B. Beltran
Lisa C. Ito, Public Information Officer (+63)927.796.7006 Tel. # (+632) 426-9442

There, too, is an ongoing signature drive in the British House of Commons, but it’s definitely not about Charter Change.

Instead, British parliamentarians are signing up in concern over the political harassment directed against fellow Philippine solons from the ‘Batasan 6’.

An Early Day Motion (EDMs) filed by the Lower House of the United Kingdom has been tabled by Members of Parliament (MPs) last March 22 and has drawn attention to the illegal arrest and detention of Anakpawis Congressman Crispin Beltran and the continuing harassment of opposition politicians in the Philippines and trade union leaders.

Members of Parliament use EDMs to draw attention and debtate to an issue and to canvass support for their views by inviting other Members to add their signatures in support of the motion. EDMs remain open for signature for the duration of the parliamentary session. The House of Commons consists of 646 MPs.

Neil Gerard MP of the Labour Party filed the EDM. Currently, 39 MPs have already signed up in support of the EDM. Three (3) signatures come from the from the Conservative Party, thirty-three (33) from the Labour Party, two (2) from the Liberal Democrats, and one from the Social Democratic and Labor Party.

“That this House notes with serious concern the detention of opposition politicians and trade union and community leaders during the recent State of Emergency declared by President Arroyo in the Philippines (Presidential Proclamation 1017)$B!D(B notes that many of those arrested remain in detention despite the lifting of the State of Emergency, and in particular Congress member Crispin Beltran, who is 73 years old and a long-time trade union leader and representative of workers and farmers in the Philippine Congress,” the EDM states.

The EDM also “notes with concern that five other members of the House of Representatives (Satur Ocampo, Teodor Casino, Joel Virador, Liza Maza and Rafael Mariano) are unable to leave the Congress building, which is surrounded by police under orders to arrest them, despite the fact that no judge has issued any arrest warrant”.

It also calls attention to the “the rising number of disappearances and killings of trade union and community leaders in the Philippines, and urges the Government to express to President Arroyo and the government of the Philippines its deep concern at the ongoing attacks on human rights in the Philippines, the continued detention of Congressman Crispin Beltran, and the current harassment of senior opposition politicians”.

The EDM was tabled in response to an appeal and action alert by UNISON International, a public sector union, on the political harassment of progressive parliamentarians.

(For the complete names of MPs who signed, please refer to the website: ).