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Further Update on Philippines

May 6, 2006


A regional court in the Philippines threw out government charges of
rebellion against Congresswoman Liza Maza of the Gabriela Women's Party
and her co-accused. Judge Jenny Lind Delorino refused to issue warrants
of arrests for the group of 48 legislators and leaders of mass
organizations, saying that the complaint--presented as an amendment to
charges against two men previously arrested--was, in fact, new
information. Charges against the two men, Congressman Crispin Beltran of
the Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Party and First Lieutenant Lawrence San
Juan, remain in place.
    Earlier, the Supreme Court ruled that while President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo's declaration of a state of national emergency was
constitutional, an order that empowered the police and military to
conduct warrantless arrests, raids, closures and seizures of property,
including media outlets, was unconstitutional. The ruling was written by
Associate Justice Angelina Sandoval Gutierrez.
    Congresswoman Maza and her four legislative colleagues in the group
targeted by the state prosecutors have chosen to remain under
Congressional protective custody as threats of arrests, with or without
warrants, persist. The Department of Justice announced it would appeal
the decision even as it was preparing other charges against Maza and the
others.
    Philippine Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez announced he would file
administrative charges with the Supreme Court against Judge Delormino
for ruling against the government on the rebellion charges; and against
Judge Benjamin Pozon for refusing to accept the Department of Justice's
recommendation that rape charges against three of four US Marines be
downgraded to "accomplice to rape."

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