Bayan Muna (People First) Rep. Satur Ocampo admits that for a while, amid what he describes as “political persecution” of representatives from progressive party-list groups, there were those within their ranks who raised questions on whether it is still worth it to participate in the parliamentary arena. “If we leave the parliamentary arena, the anti-people leaders in government will easily have their way,” he told Bulatlat in an interview.
BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Bayan Muna (People First) Rep. Satur Ocampo admits that for a while, amid what he describes as “political persecution” of representatives from progressive party-list groups, there were those within their ranks who raised questions on whether it is still worth it to participate in the parliamentary arena. But those favoring assertion of the right of progressives to participate in the parliamentary arena won, he told Bulatlat in an interview.
“They were convinced that giving up this arena would be victory for the persecutors, who want us out of Congress in the first place,” Ocampo said.
Ocampo is one of five representatives now known as the Batasan 5. The others are Teddy Casiño and Joel Virador, also of Bayan Muna; Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis (toiling masses), and Liza Maza of the Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP).
The Batasan 5 had to seek the protective custody of the House of Representatives after eluding attempts to arrest them without warrant at a press conference in Quezon City on Feb. 25, a day after Arroyo issued Proclamation No. 1017 declaring a state of national emergency.
The Arroyo government purportedly issued Proclamation No. 1017 to prevent a coup attempt by elements of the “extreme Left” and the “extreme Right.” The said proclamation was issued hours after the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) claimed to have thwarted a mutiny to be led by Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim and Col. Ariel Querubin of the Philippine Marines.
The issuance of Proclamation No. 1017 led to the arrests of a number of progressive leaders and other opposition personalities – including Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran, who is still in detention. Authorities likewise tried to arrest the representatives now known as the Batasan 5.
Beltran and alleged Magdalo officer 1Lt. Lawrence San Juan were charged with rebellion. The DOJ subsequently filed an amended information that included the Batasan 5 and 49 others in the charges. The amended information cited, among others, a chain of events beginning from the reestablishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in 1968 and included the Plaza Miranda bombing in 1971.
The amended information was junked by Judge Jenny Lind Delorino, who handled the rebellion case which was filed at the Makati City Regional Trial Court, on May 4, and only Beltran and San Juan remain as defendants in the rebellion case filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
A few days after the junking of the amended information, the DOJ recalled a standing order to the Philippine National Police (PNP) to arrest the Batasan 5. This signaled their exit from the House of Representatives.
Delorino inhibited herself from the case against Beltran and San Juan on May 10. In her decision to inhibit, Delorino cited accusations from the DOJ that she handled the case with partiality, which she denied.
Delorino’s decision to inhibit herself from handling the rebellion case against Beltran and San Juan prompted the filing of a new case against the Batasan 5 and the 49 other personalities charged in the amended information, Senior State Prosecutor Emmanuel Velasco told media on May 12.
On May 12, the amended information to the case against Beltran and San Juan was filed as new information, thus making a new case against the Batasan 5 and the 49 others charged together with them.