Supreme Court allows 'Morong 43' trial to continue
MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) will not stop the trial of 7 law enforcement officers charged for the alleged illegal detention of the "Morong 43" health workers in 2010.
The SC Third Division recently denied the motions for reconsideration filed by army generals Jorge Segovia, Aurelio Baladad, Joselito Reyes, and Cristobal Zaragoza; and police officers Marion Balonglong, Allan Nobleza, and Jovily Cabading who sought to throw out their trial on the basis of inordinate delay.
Inordinate delay is a doctrine defendants invoke to argue that the time it took for the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate their cases violated their rights to a speedy trial and disposition.
The defendants invoked this doctrine before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan, but they were denied. They then challenged the denial before the High Court.
In a 12-page resolution dated April 10, the SC Third Division ruled that there was no grave abuse of discretion when the Sandiganbayan denied their motions.
"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 SC ruled.
The law enforcement officers, however, passed a hurdle when the Sandiganbayan granted in March their motions for leave to file a demurrer of evidence.
It means they will be allowed to seek an outright dismissal of their cases without presenting evidence.
The health workers, collectively known as the "Morong 43," were detained for 10 months after they were arrested for allegedly conducting explosives training inside a house in Morong, Rizal. The military accused the health workers of being communist rebels. (READ: NPA rebel killed in clash one of 'Morong 43' – military)
Torture charges against the officers have since been dropped at the Ombudsman level, but the charges for violating the rights of an arrested or detained person pushed through.
Charges for illegal possession of explosives against the health workers were ordered to be dropped by then-president Benigno Aquino III on December 10, 2010, Human Rights Day. The workers were freed later that month. – Rappler.com