Open Letter to the Government of the Republic of by cbf45154

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									             Open Letter to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines
                              and the Government of Canada

Monday, April 21, 2008 -- We, the undersigned Canadian-based organizations and individuals,
strongly condemn the harassment by armed men of Rep. Satur Ocampo on his return from a
Human Rights Mission to Canada. We also condemn the threat of his imminent arrest. We are
seriously concerned for his safety and that of the other members of the Mission, Rep. Crispin
Beltran and Rep. Luz Ilagan.

According to Philippine newspaper reports, unidentified armed men on motorcycles believed to be
police officers were seen staking out Ocampo's residence in Quezon City, early Sunday, April 20.
A Honda SUV and a Toyota AUV parked a few metres from his house left when members of the
media arrived around 10:30 am.

We view the timing of these events as punishment by the Philippine government for Rep.
Ocampo's courageous and principled stand against the ongoing human rights abuses in the
Philippines -- particularly the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances -- that he and the
two other elected legislators aired before the Canadian Parliament and the Canadian media.
Rep. Ocampo, President of the Bayan Muna Party and the Deputy Minority Leader of the House
of Representatives, along with Rep. Beltran of Anakpawis and Rep. Ilagan from the Gabriela
Women's Party, were in Canada at the invitation of the Stop the Killings Network and the United
Church of Canada for a national tour from April 4 -18, 2008.

The three members of the Philippine Congress informed the Canadian public, media and
members of Parliament at the House of Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights
that more than 900 extrajudicial killings and 180 enforced disappearances have occurred under
the government of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. They revealed that they themselves have
been subjected to harassment, arrests and intimidation; 132 members of Rep. Ocampo's party
have been assassinated since 2001, along with 49 members of Anakpawis and members of
Gabriela.

Members of the Subcommittee who heard their testimonies expressed deep concern, saying that
Canada must speak out and condemn the political killings. They acknowledged the grave risk the
Philippine legislators have taken in standing up for their country.
The Philippine government appears to be again dredging up murder charges against Mr. Ocampo
along with fellow Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño, Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Liza Maza
and former Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano. Prosecutors in Neuva Ecija province filed the
charges on Friday, April 18, this time for the alleged killing of three rebel returnees between 2001
and 2004.

It is to be noted that Casiño also just returned from Geneva, Switzerland where he made front
page news exposing the human rights abuses in the Philippines during that country's appearance
before the United Nations Universal Periodic Review on human rights last April 11, 2008.
This is not the first time the government of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has ordered the arrest of Mr.
Ocampo and the other progressive Party list legislators in order to silence them. Each time the
charges have been thrown out of court.

On February 2007, Mr. Ocampo was arrested and detained for 18 days during an ongoing
election campaign on charges of murders he allegedly committed in 1984. At that time he was in
prison under the Marcos dictatorship. The case was dismissed by the Supreme Court.
Rebellion charges were also dismissed in 2006 against Reps. Ocampo, Casiño, Beltran and
Mariano, along with Rep. Maza of Gabriela. They spent two months under the protective custody
of the Philippine Congress to prevent their arrest. However, Rep. Crispin Beltran, 75, was nabbed
and spent 15 months in prison where he suffered heart problems before the charges were
dropped.
UN Rapporteur Philip Alston rejected the charges of the Philippine government that the ongoing
political killings and abductions are the results of internal purges within the Philippine left and
underground New Peoples Army, and instead implicated the Philippine military and police forces.
We demand that the Philippine government immediately stop the harassment of Reps. Ocampo,
Beltran, Ilagan, Casiño and the other elected representatives of these Party list organizations.
We urge that the Canadian government demand an immediate end to the intimidation and
harassment of Rep. Ocampo and ensure his safety along with that of Rep. Beltran and Rep.
Ilagan, their recent guests in Canada. We call on the Canadian government to take a strong stand
against the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the Philippines and withhold
bilateral assistance to the Arroyo government until Ottawa has proof that suitable measures have
been taken.

       Drop all trumped-up charges against Rep. Satur Ocampo and the other elected party list
        legislators;
       Stop the harassment and intimidation of Rep. Satur Ocampo and the other elected party
        list legislators;
       Stop the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the Philippines and bring
        those responsible to justice.

Signed by:
Organizing Committee for Philippine Legislators' Human Rights Mission to Canada 2008
made up of members of the Philippine Solidarity Network Canada, the Stop the Killings Network
Canada and other concerned individuals and organizations:
- B.C. Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
- Centre d'appui aux Philippines - Centre for Philippine Concerns (Montreal)
- Centre for Research on Globalization (CRM), Montreal
- Damayan Manitoba
- Development and Peace
- Dominique Caouette, Political Science Dept., University of Montreal
- Friends of Satur Ocampo, Crispin Beltran and Luz Ilagan of Vancouver
- Global and Societal Ministries, BC Conference, UCC
- Jean-Philippe Massicotte, University of Montreal
- KAIROS
- Migrante-Ontario (AWARE Filipino Family Services, Damayan Education and Resource
   Centre, Filipino Migrant Workers' Movement)
- Migrante Youth Collective
- Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
- PATAC (Philippine Advocacy Through Arts and Culture)
- Philippine Network for Justice and Peace
- PINAY Montreal
- Primates World Relief and Development Fund
- Ricardo Caluen (member of Philippine Press Club of Ontario)
- The United Church of Canada
- Victoria Group
- Justice, Global Concerns & Public Witness Committee, Conference of Manitoba &
   Northwestern Ontario, United Church

								
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