Sandiganbayan clears cops, military officials in Morong 43 illegal detention case

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 19 2019 01:20 PM

MANILA - The Sandiganbayan 7th Division has dismissed the illegal detention cases filed by health workers known as the Morong 43 who were supposedly illegally arrested, detained and tortured by military and police officials in Camp Capinpin in Morong, Rizal in 2010.

In a resolution promulgated on July 1, 2019, the anti-graft court granted the demurrer to evidence filed by retired Lt. Gen. Jorge Segovia, retired Maj. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, Brig. Gen. Joselito Reyes, Col. Cristobal Zaragoza, Maj. Jovily Cabading, police Supt. Marion Balonglong and Supt. Allan Nobleza.

The court said the prosecution failed to prove their allegation that the officials violated Republic Act No. 7438 or An Act Defining Certain Rights of Person Arrested, Detained or Under Custodial Investigation as well as the Duties of the Arresting, Detaining and Investigating Officers as it was not proven that the complainants had lawyers of their own choice at the time of arrest and during detention.

“Hence, the court finds the evidence adduced by the prosecution insufficient to sustain indictment or to support a verdict of guilt thus, warranting the dismissal of the herein cases,” the court said in the resolution penned by Associate Justice Zaldy Trespeses, with the concurrence of Division Chairperson Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta and Associate Justice Georgina Hidalgo.

The court dismissed the cases despite testimonies from the complainant health workers as well as human rights workers from the group Karapatan.

The 8 complainants in the cases were: Jane Balleta, Samson Castillo, Mercy Castro, Dr. Merry Mia Clamor, Gary Liberal, Reynaldo Macabenta, Dr. Alexis Montes, Ma. Teresa Quinawayan.

“None of the private complainants testified that they have a counsel of choice when they were arrested and detained and that they requested from accused to allow them to confer with their counsel and that they were thereafter prevented from conferring with him,” the court said.

The cases of the other accused individuals namely Manuel Tabion, Vicente Lopez, aliases “Calaoagan,” “Bulaklak” and “Idloy” were ordered archived by the court as they remain at large.