MANILA A House of Representatives leader on Tuesday backed Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's recommendation to withdraw the Philippines' membership from the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), as he refuted the organization's claim of non-cooperation of Filipino parliamentarians in its request for a meeting at the 139th IPU Assembly.
The IPU has adopted two resolutions to look into the cases of Senators Leila de Lima and Antonio Trillanes IV. In both resolutions, the IPU noted that the Filipino parliamentary authorities have not responded to IPU requests for information and to its concerns.
House Deputy Majority Leader Ron Salo disputed IPU's allegation that "the Filipino delegation to the 139th IPU Assembly chose not to respond to the request for a meeting by the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians."
Salo, who was part of the Philippine delegation to the assembly, said he experienced first-hand how the IPU tried to "ambush" the Philippine delegation in Geneva.
He delivered a Philippine statement at the IPU Assembly held in Geneva, Switzerland on Oct. 18, noting that the IPU Committee denied the Philippine delegation an opportunity to "engage and be heard."
"Our delegation expressly requested copies of the minutes of proceedings, as well as any draft text of resolution, and also members of our delegation personally expressed their desire to participate in the meeting held yesterday to afford the Committee the chance to hear their side but were denied this opportunity," Salo said in his delivered statement.
Salo asked on the floor of the IPU Assembly "that the proposed decisions relating to the Philippines on these matters be deferred, and that the Committee conduct and continue their fact-finding and engagement with all parties and the Philippine parliamentary authorities."
"It behooves the Committee and the IPU Governing Council to act with greater prudence and consistency before taking any action, especially in the absence of affording our delegation full opportunity to engage and be heard," he added.
Salo also pointed out the "apparent double standard" practiced by the Geneva-based organization for its inaction over the vilification of Arroyo, who headed the Philippine delegation to the 139th assembly.
"It is ironic indeed for our delegation to experience this situation when our head of delegation herself, our Speaker of the House of Representatives, and former President of our Republic, Mme. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, while suffering five years of detention and vilification during her incumbency as a member of our parliament, the House of Representatives, never heard one word of concern or solidarity from the IPU Governing Council, or the said Committee," he said.
"For the record, the Philippine Supreme Court finally acquitted Mme. Arroyo, showing the strength of the Rule of Law in the Philippines, and its judicial system," he added.
In an ambush interview on Monday, Arroyo said this is not the first time the IPU has meddled into the judicial processes of the country.
The Geneva-based organization adopted earlier this year a resolution, calling for the immediate release of de Lima and abandon the legal proceedings against her unless there is serious evidence against her.
"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," Arroyo said. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency