Monday, November 28, 2011

Arroyo asked to answer suit filed by six ‘Morong 43’ members

GMA News

A Quezon City court has summoned and asked former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to answer the P15-million damage suit filed against her by six members of the so-called Morong 43.

QC Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Ma. Luisa Quijano-Padilla ordered the issuance of summons to Arroyo and several others after denying the issuance of writ of preliminary attachment sought by the plaintiffs due to lack of merit.

Padilla directed the Arroyo camp to answer the damage suit within 15 days.

Morong 43 refers to the 43 health workers arrested in Morong, Rizal in February last year on allegations that they were members of the communist New People’s Army.

Six of them — Dr. Merry Mia Clamor, Dr. Alexis Montes, Gary Liberal, nurse; Ma. Teresa Quinawayan, midwife; Reynaldo Macabenta and Mercy Castro, community health workers — filed the damage suit against Arroyo, who was president when the 43 were arrested, and other officials.

Aside from Arroyo, summonses were also issued to former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Victor Ibrado, former Army commanding general Delfin Bangit, and other military officials.

Edre Olalia and Julian Oliva Jr., legal counsels of the plaintiffs, said the court has already prepared the summons but have yet to deliver them to the defendants as they will still provide the court additional copies of the complaint.

“This afternoon, we will be providing the court the copies of the complaint that will be attached to the summons so that they will be immediately serve to the former president and the other defendants,” they said.

Last April, the plaintiffs filed the complaint for damages with writ of application for preliminary attachment asking the court to order the defendants to pay them the amount of P2.5-million each for actual, moral, exemplary damages and attorney’s fees.

The plaintiffs, together with their lawyers, trooped to Padilla’s sala Monday and filed an urgent manifestation with motion to resolve the issuance of writ of preliminary attachment. However, upon filing the motion, the court furnished them with a copy of Padilla’s order denying their appeal.

The plaintiffs sought for the issuance of the writ of preliminary attachment asking the court to freeze the properties of the former president and the other defendants.

They claimed that sufficient causes of action exist against the defendants, particularly Arroyo, now a congresswoman representing Pampanga’s second district, noting that she has the ability and resources to fly out of the country.

But in her two-page resolution, Padilla said the plaintiffs failed to convince the court that defendants are about to depart from the Philippines with intent to defraud their creditors by their mere invocation that defendants are capable of doing so since they have been in power so long.

“While this court is well-aware that plaintiffs’ burden of showing defendants’ state of mind is difficult under the circumstances, still, a mere suspicion that there is a possibility of flight by the defendants to avoid any liability without more, is not is sufficient for a writ of preliminary attachment to issue. The rules on the application of a writ of attachment must be strictly construed in favor of the defendant,” the court said. - KBK, GMA News

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