‘Morong 43’ to press fight vs torturers
Members of the “Morong 43,” whose case against cops and army generals was dismissed by the Sandiganbayan, on Saturday said they would continue to seek legal remedies to get accountability over their “illegal arrest, detention and torture” in 2010.
Mercy Castro, one of the 43 community health workers who testified against the law enforcers, said that they would “not be tied down” by the Sandiganbayan decision until justice was served for her fellow health workers.
‘We did not achieve justice’
“It’s been nine years but we can’t move on because we did not achieve justice,” a tearful Castro told a press conference at the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan headquarters in Quezon City.
“We only wanted to offer health services to communities that were not being reached by the government. They should be held accountable for what they did to us,” she said.
In the press conference, Castro narrated how they were served with a “fake” search warrant in Morong, Rizal province, on Feb. 6, 2010, tied and blindfolded, tortured, sexually harassed and threatened to be killed while in detention for 10 months.
She said they were still receiving threats and were being subjected to surveillance.
Castro was one of the eight complainants who filed a case against their alleged abductors for violating Republic Act No. 7438 or “An act defining certain rights of person arrested, detained or under custodial investigation as well as the duties of the arresting, detaining and investigating Officers.”
The accused were Army Generals Jorge Segovia, Aurelio Baladad, Joselito Reyes, Cristobal Zaragoza and police officers Jovily Cabading, Marion Balonglong and Allan Nobleza.
But the antigraft court granted the demurrer to evidence of the accused and ruled that the prosecution failed to prove that the arrested medical workers were denied access to their “lawyers of choice.”
Ephraim Cortez, secretary general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, said they “respectfully disagree” with the Sandiganbayan decision and would discuss possible legal remedies for Morong 43.
He asserted that since the health workers were arrested on Feb. 6, 2010 — a Saturday — they were held incommunicado and were only given access to their family and lawyers five days after their arrest.
“It was clear that the case was dismissed with findings that are not applicable to the factual settings of the case,” said Cortez.