Appeals court gives go-ahead to ‘Morong 6’ suit vs GMA
MANILA, Philippines–The Court of Appeals has upheld the Quezon City regional trial court’s order to conduct a full-blown trial of the P15-million damage suit filed against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo by six of the “Morong 43,” the group of health workers suspected to be communists who were arrested in Morong, Rizal, four years ago.
In a ruling released Friday, the appellate court’s Special Eleventh Division affirmed the resolution issued by QC RTC Branch 96 Judge Afable Cajigal that denied the motion filed by Arroyo to immediately dismiss the complaint for damages with application for a writ of preliminary attachment.
The complaint was filed not only against her but also against several military and police officials.
According to the appeals tribunal, the RTC did not commit grave abuse of discretion in refusing to dismiss the case. In addition, the judge neither issued the ruling in a capricious, whimsical, arbitrary or despotic manner leading to a lack of jurisdiction, the appellate court noted.
“Petitioner’s arguments that she should not be held liable for damages as the alleged acts or omissions were in the performance of her official duties as President and commander-in-chief; the instant case is a suit against the State; and [that] she should not be liable under the principle of damnum absque injuria (loss without injury—are defenses whose validity and merits should be threshed out in a full-blown trial and not in a motion to dismiss,” the CA said in the decision written by Justice Victoria Isabel Paredes.
Division members Isaias Dicdican and Agnes Carpio concurred in the ruling.
The case stemmed from the complaint filed by medical practitioners and volunteer health workers Dr. Merry Mia Clamor, Dr. Alexis Montes, nurse Gary Liberal, Ma. Teresa Quinawayan, Reynaldo Macabenta and Mercy Castro, who were among the 43 individuals arrested by soldiers and policemen in a raid at the Silungan Seminar House on Feb. 6, 2010.
The authorities said they confiscated firearms and bomb-making components at the seminar house.
The health workers said they were held incommunicado and detained at Camp Capinpin where they were subjected to physical and psychological torture.
The complainants said they learned that the raid was carried out pursuant to the National Internal Security Operation Plan or Oplan Bantay Laya, a counterinsurgency program allegedly approved by Arroyo.
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