Govt appeals order to free leftwing congressman

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE Office of the Solicitor General is appealing the release of 74-year-old Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran from house arrest, saying the leftwing lawmaker must continue to be detained because the rebellion case against him constitutes a serious charge.

On Tuesday, Solicitor General Agnes Devanadera filed a motion for reconsideration before the Supreme Court appealing its ruling ordering Beltran’s release from the Philippine Heart Center.

“The decision overturned established principles of law involving probable cause, the hierarchy of courts, and equal protection of law for all litigants,” Devanadera said.

But Beltran said he was confident the Supreme Court would reject the Solicitor General’s plea.

Devanadera said the prosecution had enough evidence to prove that Beltran had a hand in the botched coup attempt last year, citing the sworn statements of policemen who manned the People Power Monument in Quezon City on Feb. 24, 2006.

Beltran was prodding the crowd to use violence to bring down President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s administration on that date, she said.

Two witnesses had also confirmed that Beltran was a high-ranking official of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army through the Anakpawis party-list, one of the rebels’ legal fronts, Devanadera said.

“Beltran substantially contributes to the funds of the CPP-NPA from his party-list budget allocation,” she said, quoting one of the witnesses.

She said evidence retrieved from 1Lt. Lawrence San Juan, a member of the Magdalo group of military rebels, contained documents confirming Beltran, along with Bayan Muna Reps. Teddy Casiño and Satur Ocampo and Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza, went to Batangas days before the coup attempt to discuss details of the planned overthrow.

“During the meeting, they drew up their respective assignments: Who will bring the arms? Who will finance the operations? Who will provide the people power contingent? Where do they converge?” she said.

“Beltran was among those assigned to lead one of the many mass actions for the purpose of flaming the people’s sentiments against the government,” Devanadera said.