Press Release
August 15, 2006

Liberal Party head Drilon condemns "raid'
on residence of Laguna Rep. Agarao

Liberal Party (LP) President Sen. Franklin Drilon today condemned what he described as "apparent political harassment" inflicted on Laguna Rep. Benjamin Agarao, the latest prize recruit of the Drilon-led Liberal Party, whose residence in Santa Cruz, Laguna was raided by six unidentified armed men allegedly in search of unlicensed firearms at dawn Tuesday.

"I condemn in the strongest possible terms this apparent political harassment on Congressman Agarao, the latest recruit of the Liberal Party who took oath as a party member last July 26," Drilon said.

"At about 3:00 a.m. today, some six armed men raided his residence in Barangay Patimbao in Santa Cruz, Laguna and abducted at gunpoint one of his caretakers, allegedly in search of unlicensed firearms."

"After failing to find the alleged firearms, the unidentified men, who were wearing masks reminiscent of death squads during the Martial Law years, left and released the caretaker, identified as Ramon Mangaya Jr.," Drilon added.

Drilon, who is chairman of the Senate Finance and Public Order Committees, challenged Philippine National Police Director Oscar Calderon to identify and punish the raiders on Agarao's residence.

"Otherwise, this obvious case of political harassment will go down as another statistic in the long list of unsolved political killings that has become the hallmark of the Arroyo administration," Drilon said.

The former Senate President warned that the continued violations of the political and human rights of Filipino legislators will definitely give the Philippine "a black eye" in the international community of parliamentarians.

LP Director General Chit Asis said Agarao has expressed serious concern over the incident. "I believe this is part of a nationwide, not local, clandestine campaign to harass the opposition," Asis quoted Agarao as saying. "This incident was meant to send a message to Congressmen that you will not be spared from all sorts of intimidation once you cross the powers that be."

Drilon, who was elected recently as chairman of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), noted that Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Satur Ocampo has already filed a complaint of human rights violations by the Arroyo administration before the IPU.

The IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians is the prestigious international body that investigates violations of human rights of lawmakers throughout the world.

Drilon was elected to the post during the 114th session of the IPU Human Rights Committee last month. He is the first Filipino legislator to be elected to the position since the IPU was established in 1889. The IPU, the oldest multilateral political organization, brings together 146 affiliated Parliaments and seven associated regional assemblies.

In the past, the IPU Committee has contributed to resolving over 500 cases involving parliamentarians in 104 countries. The committee has also taken a direct hand in the investigation of controversial cases such as that of Malaysian former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy, Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and former presidential candidate of Guinea Alpha Conde.

Last month, the IPU Committee received a complaint filed by the so-called "Philippine Batasan Five" who were threatened with arrest and detention by the Philippine National Police (PNP) under the Arroyo administration.

Also pending before the IPU Committee is the case of Anak-Pawis Party-list Representative who was arrested by the police several months ago. Beltran, along with the Batasan Five lawmakers, Party-list Representatives Ocampo, Teodoro Casio, Joel Virador, Rafael Mariano and Liza Maza claimed their rights were being violated by the police for their opposition to repressive policies of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

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