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Court junks Morong 43’s habeas corpus plea

March 10, 2010

THE COURT OF APPEALS ON WEDNESDAY DENIED A PETITION TO ISSUE A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS FOR THE 43 HEALTH WORKERS ARRESTED BY GOVERNMENT SECURITY OFFICERS IN MORONG, RIZAL LAST FEBRUARY ON SUSPICION OF BEING COMMUNIST REBELS.
Voting 3-2, the five-member appelate court panel said it was leaving it to the regional trial court of Morong to decide whether the arrest of the 43 workers was illegal and arbitrary, according to a radio dzBB report.
In the 20-page decision, the appellate court said matters concerning the February 6 arrest should just be “threshed out” in the lower court, adding that their detention “can no longer be questioned” because criminal charges had already been filed.
Originally composed of three members led by Associate Justices Portia Alino-Hormachuelos, the CA panel hearing the case added two more members last week to be able to arrive at a uninamous decision.
The two other justices who were members of the original panel were Normandie Pizarro and Francisco Acosta. The additional justices were Associate Justices Magdangal De Leon and Sesinando Villon.
The Rizal court is currently conducting a trial on the charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosive devices, as well as violation of the gun ban, filed by the Philippine National Police against the detained workers.
On March 5, Judge Amorfina Cerrado-Cesar of the Rizal RTC-Branch 78 deferred the arraignment of the 43 workers, pending the resolution of the hebeas corpus plea filed before the CA.
The 43 individuals are currently detained at Camp Capinpin, a military camp in Tanay, Rizal, east of Metro Manila. Families of the 43 have said the miliary has no authority to have custody over the workers since they were facing criminal charges.
Through their lawyers, the so-called Morong 43 earlier also filed before the Court of Appeals an urgent motion to transfer their detention.
Military chief General Victor Ibrado had earlier recommended that the 43 be handed over to the police.
The Health Alliance for Democracy said it would be staging a protest rally at 2 p.m. Wednesday in front of the appellate court building in Manila to object the decision.–Mark Merueñas/RSJ, GMANews.TV