MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has allowed Senior Superintendent Allan Nobleza to reassume his post as police attaché of the Philippine Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, even as he faced criminal charges over the alleged violation of rights of health workers arrested and detained in Morong, Rizal, in 2010.
The health workers known, as the “Morong 43,” had sued police and military officers for their illegal arrest as they conducted a medical mission in Morong, Rizal, in February 2010. They were detained then on charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives, with some of them tagged as members of the New People’s Army (NPA). (READ: NPA rebel killed in clash one of ‘Morong 43’ – military)
Nobleza is one of the 7 police and military officers charged before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the case. They have yet to be arraigned, with a tentative schedule on July 31.
The Sandiganbayan’s Seventh Division lifted the hold departure order issued against Nobleza. The court gave weight to the manifestation of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) that it does not object to Nobleza’s posting overseas.
“This Court, in deference to said appointment and in consideration of the crucial duty in the hands of accused Nobleza, temporarily lifts the Hold Departure Order…solely for the purpose of discharging his duties …and only until November 11, 2018. Needless to say, the conditions imposed under his bail bond remain in force,” the court said.
Nobleza’s tour of duty ends on November 11, 2018.
Though he is allowed to reassume post in Pakistan, he is still required to seek court clearance for any other personal travels. He will follow the same court process for travels, including posting a travel bond. He paid P192,000 for his return to Pakistan.
Nobleza was warned he will be arrested if he violates the conditions. (READ: Morong 5: The lost brigade)
Aside from Nobleza, the others charged over the Morong 43 are Police Superintendent Marion Balonglong, Chief Inspector Jovily Cabading, Colonel Cridtobal Zaragoza, and retired military generals Jorge Segovia, Aurelio Baladad, and Joselito Reyes. They were charged with 8 counts of violations of Section 4 (b) of RA 7438 or the rights of persons arrested, detained or under custodial investigation.
The military said the 43 were arrested in February 2010 because they were allegedly conducting explosives training in a house in Morong. The detainees, who went on hunger strike to demand their release, were slapped with charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives, and gun ban violation.
On December 10, 2010, on Human Rights Day, then President Benigno Aquino III announced that charges against the Morong 43 would be dropped because they were denied due process.
The Morong Regional Trial Court (RTC) followed suit and ordered their release after 10 months of detention. They claimed they were tortured by soldiers.
Members of the Morong 43 filed torture charges against the soldiers, but the Ombudsman dismissed the charges for non-conclusive evidence. – Rappler.com