Van Bommel calls for release of Philippine MPs

2 March 2006

Van Bommel calls for release of Philippine MPs

Harry van Bommel has asked Foreign Affairs Minister Ben Bot to give his views on the situation in the Philippines, following Philippine President Gloria Arroyo's late February declaration of a state of emergency. Her move was allegedly prompted by an attempted coup d'état involving parties of right and left, after which a number of junior military officers were arrested.

President ArroyoThe Philippine President has also had two left parliamentarians, Crispin Beltran and Joel Virador, arrested while four more have been forced to remain in the parliament building, where they are immune from arrest, though the parliament's chairman has taken the decision to hold them there under his own responsibility. In addition, critical newspapers Abante and the Daily Tribune have been closed down.

Since she was re-elected in May 2004 with the help of dubious methods, President Arroyo has come under growing pressure to resign. The movement to demand her resignation asserts that she won the elections by fraud. Last Friday, 24th January, a major demonstration was to have been organised to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the popular uprising against the Marcos dictatorship.

SP foreign affairs spokesman Harry van Bommel said, “It appears that Arroyo felt things were getting a little hot for her and that she was looking for an excuse to rein in the opposition and undermine the rule of law in the name of saving it. I want the Dutch government to protest against the arrest of members of parliament, the hobbling of the press and the suspension of civil rights.”

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