Purple S. Romero
January 4, 2009
MANILA, Philippines – The Switzerland-based Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), a 150-member international organization of parliaments, is urging the Philippine Senate to implement a previously-adopted resolution that would allow detained Senator Antonio Trillanes IV to participate in sessions of the Senate.
In a letter to Senate majority leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, the IPU reiterated that the electorate continues to be “deprived of representation” as the Senate has yet to set the system which would make it possible for the former Navy lieutenant to fully perform his duties as an elected legislator.
Trillanes, who has been behind bars for seven years for staging a failed mutiny in Oakwood, Makati in 2003 against Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and leading a standoff in the Peninsula Manila Hotel in 2007, has yet to participate in a session despite the upper house’s passage of Senate resolution no. 3 in 2008, which would allow him to participate through videoconferencing.
The letter came two months after the 150-member IPU came up with its resolution in October 2009 asking the Senate not to drag its foot in implementing its adopted resolution.
Resolution no. 3, authored by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, was adopted by the Senate under then Senate President Manuel Villar. It emphasized that Trillanes should be permitted to discharge his duties as a duly-elected lawmaker, having garnered 12 million votes and clinching the 11th spot in the 2007 elections.
The IPU made the same call in April last year and stressed that the Philippines, as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, should acknowledge Trillanes’ rights to be released from detention pending the resolution of his case.
“[The IPU] Recalls once again that it is a well-established principle that a person must be released pending trial unless the State can show that there are relevant and sufficient grounds for continued detention; continues to believe that there are ample grounds, especially in the light of judicial precedent, for Senator Trillanes’ release pending trial and, even more so, ample grounds for allowing him to conduct meetings of the Committee he chairs even inside prison, to attend Senate sessions, even under guard if necessary, and to be granted the necessary facilities to exercise his mandate meaningfully,” the IPU said.
It also warned that the Philippines may be violating Trillanes’ rights in light of its failure to expeditiously resolve his case.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson has said that the Senate could tap the P50-million e-government fund last year to set the facility for the remote video conference. Lacson also had a demonstration of the technology.
Atty. Rey Robles, counsel of Trillanes, told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak that as far as the infrastructure is concerned, they are on their way to having the video conference realized.
They just need the full implementation of the resolution “formalized” by having the Senate committee on rules, chaired by Zubiri, release its report, he added.
In 2008, the Senate, through resolution no. 765 moved to amend its rules to include electric communication as a mode of participation by Senators in the session.
The Senate issued the resolution despite a Supreme Court ruling in 2008, which barred Trillanes from attending Senate sessions because he was allegedly a flight risk.
The resolution was referred to the committee on rules then chaired by Sen. Francisco Pangilinan, which conducted a number of hearings.
When the Senate leadership changed, Zubiri took over the committee on rules.
Read article in ABS-CBNNews.com