Privilege Statement of Sen. Nene Pimentel at the Senate, January 25, 2009

On January 17, 2009 I left for a four day conference of the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians in Geneva. I arrived at my hotel in Geneva at midnight of the same day after a grueling twenty hours and thirty minutes trip that included roughly two-hour stopovers in Hong Kong and Frankfurt.


            I attended the conference as a member of the five-man body, representing ASEAN and the Asia Pacific Region of the IPU.


            After a full day’s rest on Sunday, January 18, we began work on Monday January 19, at 9:30 a.m. Our meeting ended on Thursday, January 22 shortly before 5 p.m. (The following day I left for home.)


            The five members of the CHRP were all present: Sen. Sharon Carstairs of Canada; Sen. Rosario Green of Mexico; Sen. Philippe Mahoux of Belgium, Sen. Zahia Benarus of Algeria, and I.


            In all we tackled the problems faced by 282 parliamentarians in 29 countries.


            Some of the cases were old ones, meaning that we had tackled them in previous committee meetings, but, had been adjourned without any definitive conclusion. We also took up new cases.


Murders, etc.


            The cases – old and new - involved the murders, forced disappearances, ousters, threats, beatings and imprisonments of parliamentarians.


            Towards the end of this report, the cases are enumerated with some detail in summary form.


            The Philippine cases involving Congressman Satur Ocampo et al., and Senator Antonio Trillanes are not included in the detailed discussion since I had recused myself from participating in the deliberation on the cases. I told the CHRP, however,  that there were recent revamps in the leaderships of the House of Representatives and the Senate and that it would be best if the Committee got its report on the developments of the cases first hand from Speaker Boy Nograles and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.


            I also informed the Committee that there are moves of the Senate to allow Senator Trillanes to participate in the deliberations of the Senate even by teleconferencing after the Supreme Court denied the petitions to allow the senator to physically join the deliberations of the Senate even under guard. The move is supported by an overwhelming majority of the members of the Senate. To that end, we are moving to amend the Rules of the chamber precisely to enable the senator to do his work as a senator in his detention cell even by teleconferencing.


            On the last day of our meeting, three cases were highlighted at a press conference we had at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.


            These cases involved parliamentarians in Eritrea, Zimbabwe and Palestine.


1.     Eritrea


            Eleven parliamentarians in Eritrea, namely, Ogbe Abraha, Aster Rissehatsion, Berhane Gebregziabeher, Beraki Gebreselassie, Hamad Hamid Hamad, Saleh Kekiya, Germano Nati, Estifanos Seyoum, Mahmoud Ahmed Sheriffo, Pertros Solomon and Haile Woldetensae had been arrested and held incommunicado since roughly eight years ago (September 2001).


            Their offense in the eyes of the Eritrean government was the publication of their open letter criticizing Eritrea President Issayas Afwerki’s policies. It was a case of lese majeste, a principle no longer recognized as operative in the democratic world.


            Almost five years ago (November 2003), the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights ruled that the State of Eritrea in its handling of the cases had violated Articles 2, 6, 7(1) and 9(2) of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. Specifically, the Commission found that Eritrea had violated the right to liberty and security of persons, the right to fair trial and freedom of expression of the parliamentarians concerned. And it urged the State of Eritrea to release the parliamentarians and compensate them.


            The CHRP, at our meeting, deplored the continued silence of the Eritrean authorities on the recommended release of the parliamentarians and asked that a CHRP on-site-mission be allowed by the authorities.


            CHRP member, Philippe Mahoux of Belgium, was authorized to meet with the African Union ambassador to discuss the issue more extensively.


            The Eritrean cases will be taken up again in the CHRP meeting in Addis Ababa in April 2009.


2.     Zimbabwe


            Ten parliamentarians in Zimbabwe, namely, Roy Bennett, Job Sikhala, Tichaona Munyani, Tendai Biti, Paul Madzore, Tumbare Mutasa, Gilbert Shoko, Nelson Camisa, Eric Matenga and Naison Nemadziwa were harassed by the government after the March 2008 national assembly elections. Some were forced to flee the country; others were assaulted, tortured, and framed up with treason cases.


            Sometime in late 2008, there was a power-sharing agreement between Robert Mugabe, the dictator of Zimbabwe, and Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader. The agreement intended to restore democratic rule in the country. Unfortunately, the agreement has foundered. Consequently, it is uncertain as to what the fates of the parliamentarians concerned would be. [News reports on January 31, 2009 indicated that the power sharing agreement may be put in place on February 11, when Tsvangirai will be inducted as Prime Minister, and Mugabe, as President].


            There were new cases of five other parliamentarians in Zimbabwe. The five were arrested on charges of “public violence” and the fifth with an additional charge of “rape” after the opening of parliament on August 25, 2008. They are all members of the opposition, Movement for Democratic Change. The cases, however, are still categorized as ‘confidential’ hence they could not yet be discussed in detail in this report. The Committee only has sketchy information about the problem of the five MPs.


            The Committee has, thus, decided to ask the Zimbabwe government to respect the human rights of all of the parliamentarians involved; to allow an on-site visit to Zimbabwe, and to hear the representatives of the parties concerned at the Addis Ababa meeting of the committee in April 2009.


3.     Palestine


            Regarding Palestine, we did not discuss the recent Gaza assault waged by the Israeli Defense forces. What we took up were the kidnapping and detention by the Israeli Defense Forces of 36 Palestinian parliamentarians at various times since 2001, excluding two (Hussam Khader and Miriam Saleh) who had been released.


            The reason for the limited focus of the work of the CHRP is that our mandate is to tackle cases of parliamentarians whose human rights are violated.  The violations of the human rights of the Gaza residents and of other individuals throughout the world are within the jurisdiction of another body of the IPU.


The cases of the Palestinian parliamentarians we discussed were those of Marwan Barghouti, Ahmad Sa’ Adat, Omar Matar, Nayef Al-Rojoub, Yaser Mansoor, Husny Al-Burieny, Fat’hy Qara’wi, Imad Nawfal, Anwar Zboun, and Mahmoud al-Khateeb;


Abduljaber Al-Fuqahaa, Khaled Yhya, Khaled Sulaiman, Naser Abduljawad, Muhammad Abu-Teir, Ahmad ‘Attoun, Muhammad Totah, Ibrahim Saed Abu Salem, Basem Ahmed Zaarer, Ibrahim Mohamed Dahboor;


Mohamed Maher Bader, Mohamed Ismail Al-Tal, Fadel Saleh Hamdan, Ali Saleem Romanien, Sameer Safeh Al-Kadi, Reyad Ali Emleb, Reyad Mahmoud Radad, Kali Musa Rbae, M. Motlak Abu Jheasheh;


Wael Mohamed Abdel Ruman, Mahmoud Ibrahim Mosleh, Ahmed Aziz Mubarak, Hatem Qfeisheh, Mahmoud Al-Amahi, Abderrahman Zaidan, and Abdel Aziz Dweik.


Guilt by association    


In the discussion, I brought up the issue of whether or not it was now an accepted principle in international law for a country to declare a group a terrorist organization and on that basis arrest and detain persons simply because they are members of that organization.


            Chair Sharon Cartairs replied that the US and her own country, Canada, and other countries as well had passed legislation declaring certain organizations as terrorists. The implication was that membership in those organizations was in violation of law.


            This was the principle that Israel has posited as the basis for her declaration that Hamas, to which the parliamentarians belonged, was a terrorist organization. Therefore, it is argued that members of Hamas violated Israel’s domestic law and the fact that they were parliamentarians did not derogate from their culpability.


            In the cases involving the Hamas parliamentarians under the custody of the IDF, no evidence was shown that they had participated in the commission of actual crimes against the Israelis or against any individual in or out of Palestine. They were arrested and detained by the IDF, and convicted by Israeli military courts on the basis of their being members of Hamas.

            The case of Aziz Dweik is instructive. He was the Speaker of the parliament of Palestine when he was picked up and detained by the Israeli Defense Forces. Later he was formally charged by Israeli authorities before an Israeli court on three counts: 1. being a member of Hamas; 2. being a leader of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and 3. for being the Speaker of the PLC.


            He was found guilty on charges 1 and 2 and found not guilty on charge 3.


The Committee deemed Charge No. 3 particularly appalling. How can being a Speaker of a legislative council be considered a criminal offense?


            But, to illustrate how complicated the situation is, we quote portions of the letter of the Israeli Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Leshno-Yaar dated December 22, 2008 to the IPU Secretary General. He said that they are doing things according to law and that “all Palestinian lawmakers detained in Israel for their connection to terrorist activities, including Mr. Marwan Bargouti and Dr. Dweik, continue to enjoy their rights as stipulated under Israeli law, with due respect to humanitarian concerns. He made the retort that a soldier of Israel, Gilad Shalit, has been detained by “Palestinian authorities (and) continues to be denied even the most basic humanitarian assurances.”


            In sum, the CHRP decided to continue pressing the Israeli authorities to release the parliamentarians concerned; allow on-site visits by the CHRP to the military jails where the Palestinian lawmaker-detainees are held, and determine at our next meeting in Addis Ababa in 2009 if there is anything else we can do on the matter.


Other cases     


            Following are the other cases that we took up at the CHRP:






CHRP Actions

1. Afghanistan

1. Malalai Joya, lady MP

Arbitrary Suspension of her parliamentary  mandate May 21, 2007 for allegedly defaming other MPs in a television show.


Urges the Speaker and Deputy Speaker  to take immediate steps to reinstate  Ms. Joya to her parliamentary status soonest.


Will reexamine case in

Addis Ababa IPU meet in April 2009



2. Shukria  Barakzai


She mentioned three names of “very  powerful persons”, who she said should be “off the record”.


It is obvious she fears for her life and that of her family.



Death Threats; attacks on house &


Calls on authorities to protect MP Barakzai, identify and prosecute those responsible for the threats and attempts  on her  life.



Will reexamine case in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



2. Bangladesh

1. Shah Ams Kibria

Killed grenade Jan. 27, 2005

Asks new parliament to ensure due administration of justice.


Asks for new info.


Will reexamine case in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



2. Sheikh Hasina


NOTE: Sheik Hasina was elected Prime Minister of Bangladesh on December 29, 2008.


This change of circumstances may speed up resolution of her case.


Subject of Grenade attacks Aug. 21, 2004


Asks new parliament to speed up resolution of the case, prosecute criminals.


Asks authorities for info on development.



Will reexamine case in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



3. Belarus

Victor Gonchar


[Nikolai Samoseiko, chair of the Committee on Legislation, Judicial & Legal Issues, House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus recently wrote the IPU Secretary General in an undated letter that the Prosecutor’s Office in Minsk was conducting an investigation into the disappearance of Gonchar. And they will furnish additional data as they become available].


Disappeared Sept. 1999

Case is now pending with UN Human Rights Committee.





Asks the Secretary General to inform UN Committee what CHRP concerns are in the case.







Will reexamine case in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



4. Burundi

1. S. Mfayokurera

and five other MPs


Six MPs Killed between 1994-1999

Asks Burundi Tripartite Commission to bring cases to speedy conclusion.


Asks info on developments.

Will reexamine cases in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



2. Ndihokubwayo

2 murder attempts 1994 & 1995

Asks gov’t to reactivate investigation.


Will reexamine cases in Addis Ababa IPU meet.




3. Mathias Basabose & 21 other MPs







Included in the 22 cases are those of MPs Mpawenayo – arrested July 4, 2008;

Nkurunziza – arrested July 15, 2008;

Minyurano – arrested November 1, 2008;


Expelled from parliament by Constitutional Court  June 5 2008. Decision deemed flawed.



Illegal arrests.


Revocation of their parliamentary mandate illegal.







Asks government to accord them justice.



Will reexamine cases in Addis Ababa IPU



4. 8 MPs



(Cases confidential)


Attempted murder by grenade attacks

Aug. 19, 2007


Urges gov’t to identify and apprehend the perpetrators of  crime.


Asks for more information.


Will reexamine cases in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



5. MP, president  of a political party



(Case confidential)



April 2007


Asks authorities to speed up resolution of case including allegations of torture inflicted on colleagues of the MP.


Asks authorities to allow CHRP  observer during proceedings.


Will reexamine case in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



5. Colombia

MP harassed by police


(Confidential case).


Heng Samrin, President, National Assembly, wrote letter, December 16, 2008, to CHRP asserting that the MP had violated the law and that was why the Security Forces acted in the manner that is being complained of.


Prevented by the security forces from erecting SRP posters in the Russei Keo, Phnom Penh, March 22, 2008.


According to MP Sonn Chhay, the MP concerned has not been jailed. But his complaint against those who had harassed him has not been attended to.


Asks authorities status of case.

Will reexamine case in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



6. Chad 

Ngaleji Yorongar


[Letter December 4, 2008 received from Speaker of the National Assembly Nassour Guelengdouksia Ouaidou assuring full rights for Yorongar as a parliamentarian]


Abducted, Feb. 3, 2008  with two opposition leaders; (escaped and fled to France on Feb. 19, 2008)

Thanks Speaker of National Assembly for receiving MP Yorongar back to parliament.


Asks gov’t to arrest and prosecute criminals.


Will reexamine case in Addis Ababa IPU meet if need be.



7. Colombia

1.   Pedro Nel Jimenez Obando

2.   Leonardo Posada Pedraza

3.   Octavio Vargas Cuellar

4.   Pedro Luis Valencia Giraldo

5.   Barnardo Jaramillo Ossa

6. Manuel Cepeda Vargas


The six Congressmen were murdered between 1986-1994; all

Members of Union Patriotica (Opposition Party)


Asks Inter-American Commission on Human Rights which has taken cognizance of cases to provide updating info.



Will reexamine cases in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



7. Herman Motta Motta

Death Threats against Motta Motta that led to his exile in Oct. 1997

Asks Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to provide more info.


Will reexamine case in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



8. Oscar Lizcano

Kidnapped by FARC with 5 others between Aug. 2000 and Feb. 2002; escaped recently. Others had been freed earlier.


MP Lizcano has

finally recovered his freedom.


Case closed.



9. Wilson Borja

Death Threats, Attempted Murder 2000


Asks Congress of Colombia to afford him justice and appropriate security.


Will reexamine case in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



10. Pompilio Avendaño

Being tried for  Aggravated Criminal Conspiracy

CHRP will arrange with authorities for the sending of an observer to trial.


Will reexamine case in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



1.     Luis Carlos Galan Sarmiento


Presidential candidate Liberal Party in 1989



Aug. 18, 1989 for his anti-drug stance. Identities of suspects were named by Sen. Juan Manuel Galan, son of the deceased, in a letter to CHRP Oct. 15, 2008.


Urges authorities to act with utmost urgency to ensure justice is done.





Will reexamine case in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



8. Democratic Republic of the Congco


   Rebellion is going on in the DRC as this report is done.


13 MPs

Pierre Dibenga Tshibundi & 12 others


MPs Frank Diongo Shamba and Pierre Jacques Chalupa appeared before CHRP


Arbitrarily ousted from Congress; 2 newly elected MPs arrested in 2008.


Recently an offer was made by the government to compensate them.


Affirms previous stand that their ouster and arrest were arbitrary.


Leaves it to the parties to settle the matter according to their best lights.



9. Ecuador

1. Jaime Hurtado Gonzalez & Pablo Tapia Farinango

Murdered Feb. 17, 1999

Urges gov’t to make full use of the findings of the Commission of Inquiry. New leads have been provided.


Will reexamine case in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



2. F. Aguirre Cordero & 55 others

Barred from participating in elections by Supreme Electoral Court

Finds the dismissals illegal. Since new elections are set for April 26, 2009, trusts that the 56 MPs are allowed to enjoy their full civil and political rights and to participate in the elections.


Will revisit if necessary in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



10. Egypt   

Ayman Noor


[Candidate against Muburak]


His HQ & Law Office were burned one day after Obama's election as US President. Critics accuse him of being an American spy.


January 2005


Solitary confinement

Due to Egyptian Speaker Ahmad Fathi Sorour’s letter taking CHRP to task, the committee asks to meet with him in Addis Ababa IPU meet.


In his letter, Sorour listed his credentials as a parliamentarian, law professor of Cairo University, and Chair of the Int’l Institute of Law of Francophone Countries in Paris.


11. Ethiopia

Lady MP opposition leader


Confidential case.


Imprisoned in solitary confinement December 29, 2008.

Further info needed.


May be taken up in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



12. Indonesia



(Case Confidential)


Killed in Jan. 2000.


Identity of killer (s)

not yet established.


The MP was killed at a time when there was an active insurgency for the separation of the MP’s province from Indonesia.



The case was one of the two cases we took up in an on-site mission of the CHRP that I led last year to Indonesia.


Asks National Police Chief’s reply to requests for information regarding the investigation.



The case is muddled up by the reluctance of the victim’s family to get involved in the investigation of the case.




Will reexamine case in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



2. Former MP claims that his properties were confiscated during the Suharto regime.

His complaint is being attended to by the authorities.


(Case confidential)


Unlawful confiscation of properties


This case was the other concern of the CHRP on-site mission that I led last year to Indonesia.


Requests the House to ensure that this issue is settled soon.


Will reexamine case in Addis Ababa IPU meet.




MP advocating women’s rights arrested June 12, 2006; cleared of charges but banned from travelling.


(Case confidential)


Alternate CHRP member MP Jalali interceded for him.


While he was cleared of the charges, he was banned from traveling contrary to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1975.


Will reexamine case in Addis Ababa IPU meet


14. Kenya

 2 MPs


Jan. 29 and 30 2008, respectively


Urges the National  Assembly  to ensure crimes will not go unpunished.


Asks authorities for more specific information.


Will reexamine cases in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



15. Lebanon

1. Gibran Tueni

2. Walid Eido

3. Antoine Ghanem, and

4. Pierre Gemayel


Killed between 2005 and 2007 in car bomb attacks


Asks Nat’l Assembly facilitate action in cooperation between UN Int’l Independent Investigation Commission that these crimes do not go unpunished.


Will reexamine in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



16. Mongolia

Zorig Sanjasuuren

Murdered Oct. 1998

Asks gov’t update on investigation & on the offers of technical assistance to solve case by British, German & Japanese parliaments.


Will reexamine case in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



17. Magadascar

3 MPs 



(Cases confidential)


opposing gov’t  policies. Illegally arrested and harassed.

Asks government to

allow on-site mission


Will reexamine cases in Addis Ababa IPU meet


18. Myanmar


[Harassment of opposition personalities continues as we file this report].


1. Saw Naing Naing & 16 others


Parliamentarians reportedly still serving their sentences since 1990


1. Denounces Ruling Junta for illegal assumption of power;


2. Asks for their release.


Will reexamine their cases and the following cases in Addis Ababa IPU meet.


2. U Nyi Pu

3. Tin Min Htut


Parliamentarians in detention for the autumn 2007 mass demonstration.

Urges gov't  to release parliamentarians & cooperate with UN.


4. Hla Than & 6 others


Parliamentarians who died in custody of Ruling Junta


Appeals to

international community especially China and India to help promote democratic change in Myanmar.


Appeals to ASEAN  especially through ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan to help effect a dialogue between Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD and other stakeholders with the Ruling Junta.



5. Win Ko and

Murdered  in Kumming, China on Nov. 1, 1992

Asks gov’t and ASEAN to help uphold Rule of Law in Myanmar.


6. Hla Pe

Murdered outside Bangkok, Thailand, on June 16, 1993.

Same general plea


           I received a statement issued by 32 Members of Parliament Union-Burma who held their conference in Malahide, Ireland on January 20-23, 2009. The excerpts that follow highlight the difficulties that the leaders of the democratic forces in the country face.


          “We are concerned that national leaders U Tin Oo and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi are still under house arrest and U Khun Tun Oo is being made to serve an extraordinarily lengthy prison term. Political detainees, including 17 elected representatives and all leading members of the 88 Generation Students, were vindictively sentenced to decades-long prison terms. Many of the political prisoners, including elected representatives, are ailing -- some with serious ailments -- because of harsh prison conditions, lack of medical care, or refusal by the authorities to let them receive proper treatment. World governments, international human rights institutions, and the United Nations should not let this intolerable situation continue. We call on them to urgently step in to secure their release as soon as possible.


          “We are deeply disappointed that the Burmese regime, which is a member of the United Nations and obligated to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and all other international human rights standards and conventions to which it is a signatory, continues to violate with impunity the worst kind of human rights abuses, including Article 21 (3) of the UDHR which states that "the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government", the launching of military offensives in ethnic areas with disregard for human suffering and destruction of life and property, the use of torture, summary and arbitrary executions, massive employment of forced labor and forced portering for the military, and violence against women, including rape.”


19. Peru

Ms. L. Salgado Rubianes de Paredes

2. Ms. C. Lozada de Gamboa


Bared  from holding public office for five years for alleged breach of Constitution

Aug. 16, 2001


Acquitted in Court on June 3, 2008.




Case closed



20. Russian Federation

Lady MP




(Case Confidential)



Nov. 20, 1998


Asks government speedy action.


Asks for more information.


Will reexamine case in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



21. Rwanda

Leonardo Hitamana

Forced disappearance night of April 7 – 8, 2003

Asks new parliament to act on matter.


Will reexamine case in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



22. Somalia

1.  Mohammed Ibrahin Mohammed

Shot and severely wounded

July 27, 2006


Asks Transitional Federation Gov’t to identify and bring to justice the perpetrator of crime.


Asks Somalia gov’t  to resolve  case.


Will reexamine case in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



2. Abdalla Derow Isak


Shot dead

July 28, 2006


Same request as above


23. Sri Lanka

1. Jayalath Jayawardena & 11 others

Subjected over the years to death threats & reprisals; abducted, then, released w/ warning against voting “No” to gov’t budget.


Urges Sri Lanka authorities to investigate w/o delay abductions & punish the culprits and combat ‘impunity’.

Will reexamine case in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



2. A.R. Mohideen Abdul Cader

Charged under the Public Property Act in August 2004

Asks gov’t to provide him with fair trial and speedy trial. Also info on new developments.


Will reexamine case in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



3. MP


(Case Confidential)


MP’s Office was attacked twice in

October 2008


Asks authorities to provide more info.


Will reexamine case in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



4.D.M.S.B. Dissamayake

Held in contempt of court Dec. 7, 2004; served sentence, rest remitted by President; lost parliamentary seat

Asks President to grant him full pardon.


Will reexamine case in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



5. MP


(Case confidential)


Death Threat

April 11, 2007


Asks authorities to provide more info.


Will reexamine case in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



6. Lady MP Chandrani Bandara

Harassed by police for her participation in an authorized public demonstration vs rising fuel prices,

Seek more info from the authorities.


Will reexamine case in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



24. Turkey

1.     Lady MP Leyla Zana,

2.     Hatip Dicle,

3.     Orhan Dogan

4.  Salip Sadak


Sentenced in Dec. 1994 to a 15-year prison term for membership in an armed organization & for expressing support for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKP) and other forms of harassment.

Asks for a copy  of the final ruling the Court of Cassation in the case.





Will reexamine case in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



5. E. Mehmet Sincar

Murdered Sept. 1993


No member of Sincar’s family was asked to be witness of the case.


Asks gov’t to inform the family of Sincar of the trial dates of the case and to allow them to participate in the prosecution of the case.


Asks for more info.


Will reexamine case in Addis Ababa IPU meet.



25. Yemen

1. Ahmed Saif Hashed


[left behind wife & 7 kids]


Ambushed; illegally arrested, beaten up; seeking asylum

Adjourned hearing until after asylum request is acted on by Swiss gov’t.


2. Two MPs


(cases confidential)


Followers beaten up recently; surveilled heavily by gov’t security.

(For further action)


More info needed






            In the brief stopovers I did in Hong Kong and Frankfurt, I gathered some information on the status of our overseas workers.


In Hong Kong, there are no mass lay-offs of Filipino domestics, but, some households are scrimping on house-helps because of the economic meltdown that affected the companies in which their employers are working.


In Frankfurt, the Consul General Enrique Manalo told me that many Filipinos in Germany in general are married to German nationals and their being repatriated for any reason is remote. CG Manalo also said he was in the process of looking for an office space to house the newly created consulate that will cover Frankfurt and its environs.


The China Daily (January 17-18) had a front page story on the Chinese school children from Sichuan thanking President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for receiving them in their “rehabilitation trip” to the Philippines.




And finally if the thieves in Geneva do not mind, let me recount an unsavory incident that happened at the airport parking lot shortly upon my arrival in that beautiful city of good repute.


I was chatting with Deputy Chief of Mission Dennis Lepatan in front of the car that was to take me to my hotel while my luggage was being loaded at the back by Efren, who drives for the Philippine Mission. Dennis had minutes earlier opened the car’s side door, put my hand carried bag on the car’s back seat and closed the door.


In the midst of our conversation, Dennis suddenly shouted at two men who had just casually passed behind him: ‘Hey, that is our bag!’ simultaneously pointing to a bag one of the men was carrying.  I did not realize it then but the bag the man carried was my bag which contained my computer and book drafts in USBs for editing.


The man was barely three feet away from Dennis and to my surprise he turned around and handed the bag over Dennis as if it was the most natural thing to do.  The two men then walked away from us more hurriedly as if they were merely trying to catch a plane.


When Efren realized what was happening, he shouted in his twisted French, Police! Help! Thieves! and ran after the two. Roughly 20 meters from where Dennis and I stood, Efren caught up with the two men. He grabbed the arm of the man who had taken my bag but the man wriggled free and ran away with his companion.


Efren pursued them all the while shouting: “Police!”, “Thieves!” But, no police officer responded. In fact, we did not see any policeman around. The two men eventually got lost in the droves of people in the airport premises.


Well, as Rizal said in his Ultimo Adios, “El sitio nada importa!”




            I thank Ambassador Erlinda Basilio and her senior staff, Dennis and his wife, Maite, and Gary Domingo for graciously facilitating my attendance of the meetings of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians.


            Ambassador Basilio also kindly updated me over dinner about the situation of our compatriots in Geneva. My thanks also go to Ambassador Maria Theresa Lazaro for briefing me over lunch at the Olympics Museum in Lausanne about the situation of our overseas Filipinos in the rest of Switzerland and certain concerns of the Institute of Federalism of the University of Fribourg.


            In sum, there does not appear to be any imminent danger of our Filipino professionals and other workers being deported from or thrown out of work in the Swiss Confederation.


The work of our compatriots in Germany also appear stable from the information passed on to me by Consul Manalo.


            I thank Danilo Baldon of the Hong Kong consulate for meeting me at the airport and keeping me company while I awaited my connecting flights to and from Geneva.