Sunday, May 28, 2006


May 26, 2006


Independent research group IBON Foundation denounces the order issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) preventing Bayan Muna Party-list representative Satur Ocampo to travel to Jakarta, Indonesia to speak in an international forum.

Rep. Ocampo is set to speak at the International Conference on the Cancellation of Illegitimate Debts on May 27-29. The conference is co-sponsored by the international non-government network Reality of Aid (ROA), of which IBON is the secretariat.

IBON international head and ROA project manager Teresa Lauron calls the order �pure and absolute harassment�. According to Lauron, �The DOJ order violates Rep. Ocampo�s constitutional right to travel. The DOJ should be castigated for barring him from leaving the country without a court order.�

On Wednesday, DOJ Secretary Raul Gonzales rejected Rep. Ocampo�s clearance to travel and wrote a memo asking Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and the rest of the members of the Cabinet security cluster to bar him from going to Jakarta. Yesterday, the Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security informed Rep. Ocampo of the travel ban.

According to Lauron, IBON sees no reason how Rep. Ocampo�s attendance in the debt management conference could affect the charges filed against him and the Batasan 5. She added that Rep. Ocampo will be traveling with administration congressman Eduardo Zialcita, who will also speak in the conference.

�Rep. Ocampo is a respected legislator and we are certain that he would continue to face whatever charges filed against him by the Arroyo administration,� said Lauron.

�Rep. Ocampo is an authority in Congress on the issue of debt management and his participation in the conference is significant,� she added. �We extremely regret that he would not be able to speak in the conference because of this unreasonable and illegal travel ban.�

Rep. Ocampo is scheduled to leave for Jakarta this afternoon. The House of Representatives and the Department of Foreign Affairs had earlier issued him a travel authority and travel tax exemption. (end)

IBON Foundation, Inc. is an independent development institution established in 1978 that provides research, education, publications, information work and advocacy support on socioeconomic issues.

The Reality of Aid is the only major North-South international non-governmental initiative focusing exclusively on analysis and lobbying for poverty eradication policies and practices in the international aid regime. It brings together more than 40 civil society networks working in the field of international cooperation in the 22 donor countries, in Asia, the Americas and Africa. The project builds on a 13-year track-record of independent assessment of aid policies and practices, accomplished by constructive dialogue with policymakers at national and international levels.

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