Other foreign lawmakers have individually expressed their support for Beltran’s release.
Australian Federal MP Anthony Albanese recently expressed concern over the state of democracy in the Philippines. Albanese charged in a statement quoted in an Australian newspaper that “a democratically-elected member of the Philippines Parliament [sic] Mr. Crispin Beltran was arrested and detained under the special powers of arrest granted under the state of emergency” by the Arroyo administration.
“The arrest and detention of one’s political opponents under cover of emergency powers and without warrant are… a cause for legitimate concern…The suppression of political dissent cannot be allowed to be the legacy of the people power movement that captured the world’s attention some twenty years ago,” Albanese said.
In the U.S., Rep. Bob Hasegawa of 11th legislative district, in Seattle, Washington signed the resolution of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) National calling for Beltran’s immediate release of detained Philippine labor leader Crispin Beltran last April 29.
Tess Dioquino, secretary of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU, May first movement)-International Department, said messages of solidarity and support for Beltran have poured in from different countries, alongside protest actions in Austria, Hong Kong, the U.S., Belgium and Japan.
Beltran, meanwhile, expressed frustrations that he would not be able to personally lobby for pro-poor reforms at Congress, which adjourns on June 9. The fiery solon is known among Congress reporters and fellow solons for his lengthy and weekly privileged speeches mostly on issues affecting the Philippine labor, migrant and urban poor sectors.
Beltran nevertheless challenged Congress to “uphold a genuinely pro-people and pro-worker stance by supporting with finality House Bill (HB) 345 and HB 1064, calling for a P125 and P3,000 legislated across-the-board nationwide wage increase for private sector workers and government employees, respectively”.
Despite having been touted by the House leadership as a priority bill early this May, HB 345 remains pending at the plenary level.
“In this time of spiraling oil price hikes amidst the continuing deregulation of the downstream oil industry, I also urge Congress to consider the prioritization of HB 1065, which calls for a repeal of the Oil Deregulation Act of 1998,” he added.
Beltran called on supporters to “continue the struggle for land, wages, jobs, and rights”.
“I exhort supporters from the broad masses of the people, and through progressive formations and peoples’ organizations, to continue exposing and opposing the repressive, anti-poor, and undemocratic character of this administration. Time will come when the Arroyo administration will have to fully account for, and pay the price of, its injustices and excesses towards the toiling masses,” Beltran said.
Police arrested the 73-year-old solon and labor leader on the basis of a legally invalid warrant and arbitrarily detained at Camp Crame last Feb. 25. Only later were charges of inciting to sedition and rebellion filed against him by the DOJ.
Due to the rapid deterioration of his health in prison, Beltran, or “Ka Bel”, was rushed to the PNP General Hospital last March 2. On April 26, he was allowed by the Makati Regional Trial Court 137 to be taken to a different hospital for medical treatment and monitoring of various cardiovascular diseases.
Confined at Room 427 of the Philippine Heart Center, Ka Bel spent here his first Labor Day in two decades away from a protest rally.
Beltran currently ranks as the third poorest solon in the Philippine Congress. (Bulatlat.com)