SC orders Sandiganbayan to proceed with trial of accused in ‘Morong 43’ case
MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court has given the go signal for the Sandiganbayan to proceed with the trial of the criminal cases filed against military and police officers involved in the illegal detention and torture of 43 health workers in Morong, Rizal in 2010.
In a 12-page resolution made public Thursday, the Court’s Third Division affirmed the 2017 decision of the Sandiganbayan to deny the motion to quash filed by retired Lt. Gen. Jorge Segovia, retired Maj. Gen. Aurelio Baladad, Brig. Gen. Joselito Reyes, Col. Cristobal Zaragoza, Police Supt. Marion Balonglong, Police Supt. Allan Nobleza, and Police Chief Insp. Jovily Cabading.
“In fine, the Sandiganbayan did not commit any grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in denying the motion to quash information,” the Court said.
The accused maintained that there was a lull in the investigation causing them to suffer prejudice, consisting of difficulty to travel which would have prevented them from fulfilling their duties.
But the Court said the supposed “delays” alleged by the accused had been justified.
“To emphasize, a simple mathematical reckoning of time shall never suffice. Rather, each case shall be scrutinized according to the facts and circumstances peculiar thereto. Considering that the perceived delays in the instant case were justified, the case against the petitioners shall not be dismissed,” the Court said.
The Morong 43 were arrested on suspicion that they were members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
They were captured by the military in Morong, Rizal, in February 2010. They claimed that they were mere health workers illegally detained for ten months and tortured by their captors on charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
They were released in December 2010 after the Department of Justice withdrew the criminal charges filed against them. /ee
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