Friday, March 03, 2006

'Detained' solons want Arroyo's clear statement on plight

'Detained' solons want Arroyo's clear statement on plight
First posted 03:58pm (Mla time) Mar 03, 2006
By Maila Ager

UNCERTAIN of their fate, five lawmakers holed up at the House of Representatives since Monday demanded a "categorical statement" from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo whether their pending warrantless arrests or rebellion charges would be lifted following the lifting of the state of national emergency.

"If it's true that the situation is back to normal, she [Arroyo]
should not only lift proclamation 1017 but she should also declare that demonstrations are now allowed, especially at [the] EDSA shrine," Bayan Muna Representative Teodoro Casiño told a press conference Friday.

"She should also declare that we couldn't be arrested without a warrant, as well as the 51 others charged with rebellion. She should also order the release of one of our colleagues," he said, referring to Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran who was brought to the hospital on Thursday due to hypertension.

Anakpawis Representative Rafael Mariano noted that the President did not make any categorical statement that warrantless arrests, media muzzling, and the "no permit-no rally" policy would also disappear, along with the lifting of the emergency declaration.

"She was aware of our condition here in the House and Beltran's but made no clear and categorical statement about us," Mariano lamented.

Gabriela Party-list Representative Liza Maza said the "climate of state terror" remained if the government would continue with the warrantless arrests and crackdown on progressive groups and activists.

Casiño, Mariano and Maza, along with Bayan Muna Representatives Satur Ocampo and Joel Virador, were under the "protective custody" of the House until after the preliminary investigation of their case had been completed.

Their movements have been confined within the compound of the House.

Ocampo said they expected no significant changes in their condition even after the lifting of the state of emergency.

"I think the President had no other option but to lift it
because of the damage it [had] caused to the country politically and economically," he said.

Proof of the government's continued crackdown on left-leaning groups was the alleged harassment by the police and military on their staff, the lawmakers said.

Virador disclosed that three of their staff had been harassed and followed by policemen. Ocampo and Casiño confirmed this.

Virador demanded an accounting of the security forces manning the House to ensure their safety.

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