By Charmaine A. Tadalan, October 22 2018; Business World


Image Credit to Business World

SPEAKER Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Monday recommended the Philippines’ withdrawal from the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) after it expressed its intention to visit the country to determine the “political persecution” of opposition Senators Leila M. De Lima and Antonio F. Trillanes IV.

Ms. De Lima is currently under detention on drug charges that her supporters say are fabricated by President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s administration. Mr. Trillanes, also a leading critic of Mr. Duterte, won a legal battle on Monday with the denial of a government motion for his arrest in connection with the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny. But he still faces rebellion charges in connection with the 2007 Manila Peninsula Siege. The senator had been pardoned for both offenses but Mr. Duterte revoked the pardon in a proclamation last August.

For her part, Ms. Arroyo told reporters, “Well, you know the last time there was an IPU and then Senate President Koko Pimentel was head of delegation and he decried the interference of the IPU in our judicial processes. This time, over the objection of the Philippine delegation, again they did the same thing.”

“So since this is the second time they did it, to my knowledge, I am recommending to the Senate which heads the delegation that we should withdraw our membership with the IPU.”

In response, Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon said in a statement, I oppose the proposal of Arroyo that we withdraw from the IPU just because this global body of parliamentarians expressed its concern over the political persecution of our fellow Senators Leila de Lima and Sorry Trillanes.

“Arroyo’s proposal is despairing, defeatist and will be seen by the world as a tacit admission that indeed critical lawmakers are being persecuted under the Duterte administration.”

“It is folly for Speaker Arroyo to suggest that the IPU should be punished for performing its mandate to protect fellow members of the legislature from abusive and over-reaching tendencies of certain officials of the executive.”

“I speak as a former chairman of the IPU Committee on Human Rights of Parliamentarians.”

“House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should mind her own and we will mind our own.”

In his statement, Presidential Spokesman and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador S. Panelo said, “We find it unfortunate that another prying organization has once again cast aspersion on the integrity of the legal processes of our country. The Office of the President considers the resolutions adopted by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), as well as its subsequent decisions on the cases of Senator Leila de Lima and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV during its 139th Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, as an affront to the core of our State’s principles.”

He added: “We consider such actions as interventions of our domestic affairs for they do not only show the Philippines in a bad light in front of the global community but worse, such one-sided evaluations infringe on our sovereignty.” — with Arjay L. Balinbin