Press Release
October 20, 2006

International lawmakers' caucus formed
to monitor RP human rights situation

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - Reflecting growing international concern on the human rights situation in the Philippines, lawmakers from various countries have banded together at the sidelines of the 115th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) to form a global network to address the matter.

The Parliamentarians' Caucus on Human Rights in the Philippines was held on October 17 at Rm. 18 of the Centre International de Conferences Geneve. Lawmakers from Australia, Switzerland, South Africa, Greece, Chile and the Philippines attended the gathering.

Senators Gavin Marshall of Australia and Ma. Consuelo Madrigal of the Philippines convened the caucus.

Bayan Muna Representatives Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casi?o, who were here to testify before the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, also attended the caucus to discuss the persecution of progressive party list groups and to appeal for greater international pressure against the killings and abductions.

Sen. Madrigal appealed to her foreign colleagues for support in her efforts to prevent the passage of a pending anti-terrorist bill in the Philippine Senate, warning that if enacted, the law would lead to more human rights abuses in the country.

According to Sen. Marshall, the caucus aims to generate international awareness and action, as well as provide an organized forum for parliamentarians to work towards alleviating the human rights conditions in the Philippines.

"It is our hope that through sharing information, monitoring the situation in the Philippines and pushing our respective governments to act on the killings and abductions, we can somehow pressure the Philippine government to do something to stop the atrocities," said Sen. Marshall, a member of the Australian Labor Party.

MP Sisa Njikelana of the South African National Assembly said that as early last year's IPU Assembly in Manila, he had already heard of the killings and disappearances of political activists in the country. "It is unfortunate that the rights of Leftist parties to express their opinions and pursue their programs and platforms are being violated in the Philippines. This is not how democracy should work."

For his part, Athanasios Leventis of the Greek Parliament, expressing his solidarity to the Filipino people's "struggle for human rights and democracy," said Filipinos "do not only face the problem of a colonial past but the abuses of those presently in power."

The parliamentarians agreed to gather signatures from as many parliamentarians as possible for a "statement of concern" on the human rights situation in the Philippines. The statement will be circulated through the internet right after the IPU Assembly.

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