Monthly Archives: December 2007

SMITH IN 2006, JALOSJOS IN 2007: PARDON FOR RAPISTS, MALACANANG’S POLITICAL BARGAINING CHIP

The leniency with which the Arroyo government treats rapist has practically transformed the government into a coddler of rapists ready to defy the rule of law to please its close political friends and allies.”

 

 

This was the statement issued by Gabriela Womens Party Representative Liza Largoza Maza accusing Malacanang of using the pardon and parole card as a political bargaining chip. “It will be recalled that it was in the middle of the night last December 30, 2006 when Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, convicted by the Philippine Court of raping a young Filipina in Subic, was whisked away from his detention cell to the US Embassy without any court order in an apparent desperate effort to please the United States. This year, its Mr. Romeo Jalosjos.”

 

 

The Gabriela solon also stressed on the need for Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales and Bureau of Corrections Chief Ricardo Dapat to set the records straight on the case of Mr. Jalosjos. “What is the status of Mr. Romeo Jalosjos now and what exactly is the government’s policy on the granting of parole, sentence commutation or pardon to convicted rapists? Much needs to be clarified amid conflicting statements and reports of virtual jailbreaks by Mr. Jalosjos.”

 

 

Maza also raised questions and demanded an inquiry into the executive department’s criteria and parameters for “good conduct” which is used for putting convicted inmates up for commutation or parole. “At whose prerogative exactly should rapists like Mr. Jalosjos be freed? Who should Filipino women hold accountable for this mockery of justice and insult to womanhood? And on what standards does the Department of Justice measure good conduct?”

 

 

If a convict donates a million pesos or builds a tennis court and a recreational center as Mr. Jalosjos did, does the DOJ Secretary already consider this as good conduct? How then will underprivileged and poor inmates show good conduct when their families can barely afford the transportation to be able to visit them regularly?”

 

 

A former Congressman of Zamboanga, Jalosjos was convicted for raping an 11 year-old girl in 1996. He has so far spent 13 years in jail for the heinous crime of rape. A commutation of his sentence to 16 years has recently been approved by Mrs. Arroyo upon the recommendation of the Bureau of Corrections on the basis of good conduct. #

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FILMAKERS CRY POLITICAL REPRESSION GABRIELA SEEKS INQUIRY ON X-RATED POLITICAL FILMS

Gabriela Women’s Party Representatives Liza Largoza Maza and Luz Ilagan led the filing of a resolution seeking to look into the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board’s “X” classification of at least three productions: “Rights”, “Mendiola” and “A Day in the Life of Gloria”.

 

“The MTRCB, in rating these movies as “X” has proven itself to be an effective tool for the suppression of free speech and expression. That it chose to classify productions with specific political messages as ‘unfit for public viewing’ betrays the purpose of its continued existence: political repression,” said Rep. Maza.

 

The GABRIELA solons explained that the MTRCB, was created by virtue of PD1986 under the Marcos administration and is mandated not just to classify but to specifically censor those that the board deems as having the tendency to incite subversion, insurrection, rebellion or sedition against the State as well as those which tend to undermine the faith and confidence of the people in their government and/or the duly constituted authorities.

 

“The MTRCB operates on a decree created by a regime that was on the verge of collapse. Its intentions then were clear as it is now: to prevent the proliferation of political opinion and expressions of dissent, protecting regimes that are outrightly being rejected by the public.”

 

They further explained, “Immediately after Martial Law was declared, Marcos issued Letter of Instruction No.13 that banned some 200 supposedly indecent and so-called bomba films but it in fact effectively banned as well, films like “Sakada” and “Sister Stella L” which intensely portrayed the political landscape at that time. This repressive Letter of Intent was institutionalized and strengthened years later with PD 1986, creating the MTRCB.”

 

“A real democracy should have no room for censors. We in Gabriela call for immediate action on this resolution that would look into how the MTRCB’s mandate for classification has in fact become a tool for political repression, thus violating the Constitutional guarantee to free speech and expression as enshrined in the Bill of Rights.” Maza concluded.

 

Joining Maza and Ilagan in the filing of the resolution are renowned and award winning independent film makers Carlitos Siguion Reyna, Anna Isabelle Matutina, Kiri Dalena, Chytz Jimenez and RJ Mabilin (A Day in the Life of Gloria) as well as film and artists group Independent Filmakers Cooperative, ST Exposure and Sine Patriyotiko (SIPAT). They arrived at the House of Representatives to witness the filing of the resolution and expressed their support. #

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Filed under Culture/Arts, News Release, Political Repression, Resolution

THOROUGH IMPARTIAL PROBE– THE FIRST STEP TOWARDS JUSTICE FOR BATASAN BLAST VICTIMS

Privileged Speech of

Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Luz C. Ilagan

 

December 11, 2007

 

 

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a matter of personal and collective privilege regarding the Batasan Blast, last November 13, 2007.

 

That fateful day will be forever etched in my mind.

 

Session had adjourned at 8:00 in the evening and those who had stayed on to finish the proceedings were walking towards the South Wing entrance of the Batasan Complex. I was with my colleague from Gabriela, Congresswoman Liza Maza, her driver and security detail, my staff, Lorraine Gallegos and my driver, Marcial Taldo. As Manong Marcial needed to fetch our parked van, he went ahead of us. Congresswoman Maza and her security meanwhile decided to go back to their office at the third floor.

 

From the lobby, we could already see our white Toyota Hi-Ace van. My staff and I proceeded to board our van from the left side of the vehicle since it was a converted van. As I was about to board van, we were stunned by a deafening explosion and a very bright light coming from the left side.

 

My staff and I managed to walk away from the van, propelled by a strong gust of wind, towards the center of the south wing rotunda. Suddenly, my legs buckled down and upon touching my thigh, I realized that my right leg was bleeding. I looked back at the van, trying to search for our driver. I couldn’t see him, the area was filled with smoke while several people were frantically going to and fro the explosion area.

 

That was when a man approached us and assisted us away from the blast. Another lady called the police for assistance so that we could board the police patrol car. With us was another wounded lady. All three of us were rushed to the Malvar General Hospital.

 

Several hours afterwards, I learned that Manong Marcial was the first casualty of the blast. His slumped body remained at the steering wheel despite attempts from our staff left at the House of Representatives to insist that he be removed. A colleague and fellow Mindanaoan, Congressman Wahab Akbar and 3 others also died. Several more, including Congressman Henry Teves were seriously injured.

 

It was indeed a harrowing experience.

 

Mr. speaker, it has almost been a month since that brazen attack on the House of Representatives. A lot has happened since then. A house filled with incriminating paraphernalia in the nearby Payatas community of was raided; suspects stupid enough to stay within a few kilometers’ radius from the scene of the crime were arrested and presented to the media. Charges have been filed and so-called masterminds identified.

 

The Philippine National Police, in record time has declared the case solved but not closed. The manner with which they conducted their investigation is an insult. The investigation that was conducted was so hastily done, its conclusions drew more questions than answers.

 

More so that the suspects who at first, so conveniently corroborated the PNP’s theory and even pinpointed masterminds now claim at being tortured into admission. They have recanted their statements. Their voices have added to the cacophony of confusion and perplexing questions.

 

Who were the targets? Five people died and several more were seriously injured. Was a single individual its sole target or was it the House of Representatives as an institution? What was the motive of the attack?

 

That it occurred at the eve of the House of Representatives Committee on Justice impeachment hearings and the Senate investigation on the ZTE scandal raises suspicion that it was meant to divert the public’s attention or send a strong political message to the House of Representatives. Indisputably, it is clear that the House of Representatives is the target of the blast.

 

Mr. Speaker, distinguished colleagues, the victims are scarred physically and emotionally. While physical injuries can heal the trauma of the brazen attack can remain forever.

 

Mr. Speaker, I do not feel safe. I do not think anybody in this chamber does, knowing at the back of our minds that anyone of us could have been the target of that blast. We will know no peace, no security, until such time that a credible, impartial investigation is conducted, the real perpetrators are prosecuted and justice is served to the victims.

 

The House of Representatives owes it to the victims and our families, to every one of us and to our constituents to have an impartial probe on this tragedy.

 

I have raised doubts and questioned the investigation and the hastily arrived at conclusions of the Philippine National Police. We in Gabriela Women’s Party have long been calling for a thorough, independent, impartial investigation of the blast.

Mr. Speaker, we have filed House Resolution 331 calling for the creation of a special multi-party committee of members of the House of Representatives from the majority, the minority, the Liberal Party, Gabriela Women’s Party and LAKAS-NUCD representing Reps. Wahab Akbar, Henry Teves and myself, to conduct a parallel investigation on the November 13 attack on the House of Representatives and for the said committee to render a report to the House of Representatives upon the conclusion of its investigation. I call on you my colleagues to support our call for justice and urge immediate action on this resolution.

 

We cannot rest until justice is served.

 

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Filed under Batasan Blast, Political, Speeches, Statement

BILL TO HOLD PALPARAN, COMMANDING OFFICERS LIABLE FOR KILLINGS, ABDUCTIONS FILED

Women’s partylist group GABRIELA joined Bayan Muna and Anakpawis in filing a bill that seeks to hold military and police superiors accountable for crimes and human rights violations committed by their subordinates.

GABRIELA Women’s Party Representative Liza Largoza Maza said, “we are filing HB 3259 or the Command Responsibility Bill, as we commemorate Human Rights Day to address the incessant human rights violations committed by the members of the Armed Forces and the police. It is high time that butchers like Jovito Palparan are held accountable for the killings and abductions of activists, militants and human rights workers and volunteers.”

The GABRIELA solon urged immediate action on the bill stressing that United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions Philip Alston in his report said that the military is in a state of denial concerning the numerous extrajudicial executions in which its soldiers are implicated. Alston’s recommendations include, among others: “Necessary measures should  be taken to ensure that the principle of command responsibility, as it is understood in international law, is a basis for criminal liability within the domestic legal order.”

According to Maza, “There is an impunity with which human rights violations are committed in this country because despite eyewitness accounts and countless evidence, no one has ever been convicted in the cases of killings and abductions involving militants and activists.”

For this year alone, human rights group Karapatan has documented 68 victims of extrajudicial killings and 26 victims of enforced disappearances. “We cannot overemphasize on the urgency of the command responsibility bill as well as that of the anti-enforced disappearances bill. Drastic measures have to be taken to address the human rights crisis under the Arroyo regime.”#

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MAZA: STOP USING MYRNA BUENDIA TO FUEL LEFT-RIGHT CONSPIRACY THEORY ON MANILA PENINSULA INCIDENT

It is utterly malicious and chauvinist for the Philippine National Police to keep Myrna Buendia— a woman in her sixties and suffering from various illnesses—in their custody and use her as a pawn just so they can concoct their bankrupt left-right conspiracy theory on the Manila Peninsula incident. Again, we bear witness to these cheap shots at red-baiting being woven by the PNP.”

This was the statement issued by Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Liza Largoza Maza today as she called for the immediate release of Myrna Buendia, the lone remaining female civilian detainee in Camp Crame charged with rebellion in relation to the Manila Peninsula crisis last November 29.

“We find no reason for the Philippine National Police to detain her further. There is no conclusive evidence to support allegations of rebellion as well as her involvement in the November 29 incident,” said Rep. Maza, expressing much alarm at PNP Chief Avelino Razon’s attempts to link Buendia to the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Buendia’s family who approached Rep. Maza’s office for assistance said is already 63 years old, and has diabetes and asthma. Buendia is also suffering from mild hearing loss, osteoarthritis in both knees, hypertension and cerebrovascular insufficiency. #

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Filed under Human Rights, News Release, Political

PNP FINDINGS QUESTIONABLE–ILAGAN

“Since day one and yesterday’s presentation of the findings of the Philippine National Police investigation, the story and theory is one and the same – that the Batasan bombing’s target is Rep. Wahab Akbar. The investigation also disregarded other possible angles that can determine the real motive of this act. The results are half-baked and generally based on the confessions of the arrested suspects.”

This was the statement issued today by Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Luz Ilagan, after the initial hearing conducted by the House Committee on Public Order and Safety yesterday. Ilagan was among those injured in the said incident.

Shortly after the blast the PNP arrested suspected Abu Sayyaf members in Payatas and linked them as suspects to the Batasan bombing. Police Senior Supt. Asher Dolina said their investigation was “70% based on the confessions” of the the said suspects.

“The statements of the those who survived the blast have not been all accounted, and yet they have already concluded their investigations. This is another attempt to fabricate stories to cover up the real masterminds and motives behind the blast,” Ilagan said.

“We continue to push for an independent body to conduct an impartial investigation on this brazen attack that targeted the lives of innocent people. We urge the House of Representatives to exercise its authority on this investigation, especially three members of this Congress and staff members of the House have been victimized by this terrible act,” she concluded.” #

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