Friday, March 19, 2010

QC court throws out ‘forum shopping’ case vs CHR on ‘Morong 43’

By Nancy C. Carvajal
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:15:00 03/18/2010

MANILA, Philippines—A Quezon City judge has thrown out a petition filed by a state prosecutor to stop the Commission on Human Rights from investigating the Armed Forces of the Philippines for allegedly violating the rights of 43 health workers arrested recently on charges of rebellion.

In a one-page order dated March 16, Judge Rosa-Samson Tatad of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 105 said the petition of State Prosecutor Romeo Senson was “defective” because it lacked documents pertinent to the filing of the petition.

"The Court finds the verification and certification of non-forum shopping as defective for it was not accompanied by a written authorization from the Department of Justice showing that State Prosecutor Senson has the legal personality to file this petition for and in behalf of the Department of Justice," the order said.

Court records showed Senson filed the petition on Tuesday and asked for a temporary restraining order and a declaration that the CHR had no jurisdiction to investigate the case.

In asking for the issuance of the TRO, Senson said the CHR might tamper with the evidence of the military against the so-called Morong 43, who have been charged with rebellion before the Rizal RTC.

Named respondents in Senson’s petition were CHR chairperson Leila de Lima and Commissioners Cecilia Rachel Quisumbing, Ma. Victoria Cardona and Jose Manuel Mamauag.

According to a court staff who asked not to be named, Senson was given until Wednesday afternoon to submit the additional documents, but failed.

“He did not show up and failed to submit the required certification from the justice secretary, and because of the ‘defective’ petition, the judge deferred the issuance of a TRO that would have stopped the CHR hearing today (March 18),” the court staff said.

In his petition, Senson stated that the arrest of the health workers had been deemed valid and upheld by four government institutions.

He mentioned the local court that issued the search warrant, which became the basis for the operation; the DoJ, which accepted the complaint against the health workers; the criminal courts where the charges against the health workers were filed; and the Court of Appeals, which upheld the suspects' detention.

“With the CHR's investigation, these institutions are wittingly and deliberately being disrespected," he said.

The proceedings being conducted by the CHR he said, “are clearly out of procedure and abet a case of forum shopping.”

The 43 health workers were arrested by operatives of the Philippine Army from a resort in Morong Rizal, in February, on suspicion that they were members of the communist New People’s Army undergoing training in bomb making.

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