Press Release
February 28, 2006

LP to provide free legal assistance to human rights
victims of Proclamation 1017, says Drilon

The Liberal Party (LP) announced today it would provide free legal assistance to victims of civil and human rights violations committed under Proclamation 1017, including military and police officers and men who are accused of allegedly planning to withdraw their support from President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Senate President and LP head Franklin Drilon said the party has decided to organize a team of lawyers to assist persons illegally arrested by the police and the military since President Arroyo placed the country under a State of Emergency.

The legal team, dubbed as the LP Lawyers Task Force for Civil Liberties, will be headed by Senate Majority Leader Francis Kiko Pangilinan and Quezon Rep. Erin Taada, both active members of the LP National Executive Committee, Drilon said.

The LP is putting up a legal network. Our lawyers in the party and its allied groups will put up a task force that will be ready to assist people illegally arrested under Proclamation 1017, especially those who do not enjoy the services of lawyers, Drilon said.

The move to set up a legal assistance team was recommended by Senators Mar Roxas and Rodolfo Biazon during a caucus of LP senators and congressmen Monday morning to discuss the implications of the State of National Emergency declaration and the alleged violations of human and civil rights by the police and military.

As a result of the caucus, the LP senators and congressmen agreed to file separate resolutions in both the Senate and the House of Representatives condemning the illegal acts committed by the Arroyo administration pursuant to Proclamation 1017.

In the Senate resolution, sponsored by Drilon, Pangilinan, Roxas, Biazon and independent Sen. Pia Cayetano, the Upper Chamber condemned the "raid and exercise of control over print media, the warrantless arrest of several citizens including a member of the House of Representatives and other similar acts carried out by the government pursuant to Proclamation No. 1017 issued by President Arroyo." Eleven other senators, both from the majority and minority, co-sponsored the resolution.

As liberals and advocates of liberal democracy, we can not stand idle while overzealous functionaries of President Arroyo trample upon the rights of the Filipino people under the guise of an imagined national emergency, Drilon said. "We must prevent the weakening of our democratic institutions and protect civil liberties as the cornerstone of our democracy."

LP Director-General Chit Asis said the LP team will work hand in hand with established legal groups such as Libertas headed by former education undersecretary Chito Gascon and Louis de Guia; the UP Law Center and the Alternative Law Group Inc, a coalition of 17 organizations.

In the Senate resolution, the LP senators condemned the arrests of University of the Philippines professor Randy David and Akbayan president Ronald Llamas during a protest march, the raid on the offices of the Daily Tribune, the arrests of party-list Rep. Crispin Beltran and retired Gen. Ramon Montao, the curfew imposed on the Malacañang Press Corps and the threat of a revocation of franchise or takeover of media entities deemed by government to be engaged in biased reporting or publication of matters affecting national security.

Another LP stalwart, Batangas Rep. Hermilando Mandanas also filed a resolution in the House of Representatives seeking to convene both chambers of Congress in a joint session to revoke or impose restrictions on Proclamation 1017.

Mandanas showed reporters a copy of House Resolution 1165, which he authored, urging the House and Senate to convene and "vote separately" on the governments declaration of a state of emergency.

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