Monday, December 6, 2010

'Morong 43' lawyer: Aquino has wrong info

AFTER President Benigno Aquino III said he would let the courts decide the fate of the “Morong 43”, one of the group’s counsels said he may already be “succumbing to the military”.

National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) secretary general Edre Olalia said the President “is either confused, legally ignorant, or being fed with inaccurate information on his persistence that he cannot do something about the release of the group”.

Olalia added the executive can always withdraw the false charges against the group, leaving the courts with no logical and legal option but to release them.

The Morong 43 is a group of health workers who were alleged members of the New People’s Army.

Gabriela Representative Luzviminda Ilagan, like other legislators, insisted that President Aquino has the power to withdraw the case.

“It is within his (Aquino) powers to instruct the Department of Justice to withdraw the case. Why the delay? His words are not translated into the appropriate action,” Ilagan said.

The Morong 43 face charges of illegal possession of explosives before the Morong Regional Trial Court and illegal possession of firearms before the Morong Municipal Trial Court.

They also have a pending appeal before the Supreme Court on their habeas corpus petition questioning the validity of their arrest.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) pressed the Aquino government to make a clear and categorical statement on their plans to resolve the Morong 43 case.

“It’s been 10 months, two DOJ memoranda, two babies born in detention and countless appeals from the day the Morong 43 were illegally arrested, tortured, denied counsel and detained. It’s not enough that the Aquino government to say that the case is up to the courts” said Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes.

“Of course it will be the courts who will order the release. But what will Malacanang do to enable the courts to make such a decision? What are the concrete steps Malacanang will undertake to secure the release of the 43?” Reyes asked.

Aquino defended

On persistent calls for Aquino to meddle the case, a Palace official insisted that "the ball is with the court”.

Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Jose Amor Amorado said President Aquino’s stand is the prudent thing to do as of the moment.

“Once the case is filed in court, it’s with the courts. Even if the prosecutor will file the motion, that is nothing if the court will not approve that,” Amorado said.

While the families of the Morong 43 appealed help from the administration, Amorado said they would want to see a move from the group first.

“Why is it that their lawyers have not filed anything to quash the search warrant which was issued in Cavite? Because that will trigger whether the government will oppose the motion,” the Palace official said.

“If you feel that the warrant is invalidly issued, your first move should have been to move to quash it because any evidence that were gathered by virtue of a void warrant is the fruit of the poisonous tree and cannot be used in court,” he added.

He meanwhile dismissed that Aquino is “succumbing to the military” for letting the courts decide on the fate of the suspects. (Kathrina Alvarez/Jill Beltran/AMN/Sunnex)

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Justice for the 43!