Friday, April 23, 2010

‘Morong 43’ supporters ask SC to grant habeas corpus plea

JACQUES I. JIMENO
GMANews.TV

Health organizations called on the Supreme Court (SC) for a prompt reversal of a month-old Court of Appeals decision, which had junked an earlier petition for a writ of habeas corpus that would have looked into the legality of the arrest and detention of the so-called Morong 43.

Julie Caguiat, spokesperson of the Free The 43 Health Workers Alliance, said that overturning the CA decision and eliminating the so-called Enrile-Ilagan doctrine, which she called an “outdated procedural jurisprudence," will strengthen the Bill of Rights protecting the citizenry against the abuses of the state.

The CA had invoked the SC ruling on the Ilagan vs Enrile case—issued in 1985 under the Marcos regime—as its basis for relegating to a regional trial court in Morong, Rizal the decision whether to declare the February 6 arrest of the 43 health workers as illegal and arbitrary.

The 43 had filed with the CA a petition for the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus so that the court could look into the legality of their arrest and detention. But the CA declared instead that their petition became “moot and academic" because a case was already filed in court and an order of commitment issued against the 43, the group said in a press release.

Almost three months since the arrest, the Morong 43 are still detained in Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal where they claim to "suffer various forms of human rights violations from the hands of the AFP" and despite a court order to transfer them to a civilian detention last month.

Caguiat noted that recent events, such as the dropping of murder charges against two members of the Ampatuan clan implicated in the Nov. 23 Maguindanao massacre, have created "much disappointed and distrust in the country’s justice system."

“This much awaited decision of the Supreme Court is a crucial stand on human rights. Even other political prisoners who were victims of trumped-up charges will sure to benefit from this decision." Caguiat said.

Caguiat also said that “the Supreme Court, as the last bastion of order and justice, should hear our plea and prove that the wheels of justice are still turning."—JV, GMANews.TV

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