Aquino orders withdrawal of cases vs ‘Morong 43’-A A +A
Friday, December 10, 2010
MANILA (Updated 11:43 a.m.) -- President Benigno Aquino III directed Friday the Department of Justice (DOJ) to immediately withdraw all the charges filed against the 43 detained health workers for humanitarian reasons.
Speaking before a huge crowd during the 62nd International Human Rights Day celebration in Malacañang, Aquino said: "I have ordered the DOJ to withdraw the information filed (against the Morong 43) before the court."
But the President said the order will be subject to court approval. "This will, in effect, subject to court approval, free those among them who have no other standing warrants in other courts".
The health workers, collectively known as “Morong 43”, have been under military detention since their arrest on February 6 on suspicion that they were members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
Charges of illegal possession of explosives and firearms and ammunition were filed against them.
Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa in a statement said that President Aquino issued a memorandum to the DOJ to carry out the order.
The President’s instruction paves the way for the release of the health workers from 10-month detention in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.
The dismissal of the cases against the Morong 43 is expected with the prosecution withdrawing the information.
“This represents the President’s commitment to respect human rights and to uphold the rule of law, a commitment that will be consistent regardless of the parties’ political affiliations,” Ochoa said.
“The quick resolution of this case is a priority of this administration, as no one should be deprived of their liberty without sufficient basis,” he added.
Ochoa added the Malacañang is optimistic that the detainees could rejoin their loved ones in time for Christmas.
Those present in the event in the Palace Friday were Commission on Human Rights chairperson Loretta Rosales, United Nations resident coordinator Jacqueline Badcock, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, among others.
Aquino also said the Philippines, as a signatory to most of the major international human rights treaties and instruments, must live up to its commitments.
"We have a government that is indeed serious about human rights," said Aquino. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)