Dropping of cases vs. 'Morong 43' a lesson for military to observe correct process – DOJ chief

December 11, 2010 3:46 am 

MANILA, Dec. 10 – Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said that the withdrawal of criminal charges against the members of the so-called "Morong 43" should served as lesson to the military to follow the correct process in arresting suspects.

De Lima made this statement shortly after President Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III decided to move for the release of the health workers after "a realization that the procedures conducted by the military in their arrest was questionable."

But she pointed out that government's move would not necessarily mean that the "Morong 43" were innocent.

"It is possible that accusations of the military could be true – that the 'Morong 43' or some of them are involved or engaged in illegal activities alleged against them. But the military should have followed the proper procedures," De Lima said.

She also said that the DOJ was also checking on claims of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that six of the 43 should not be released immediately because they were purportedly charged on other cases.

De Lima also said that it was now up to the officers involved in the operations to explain their lapses.

"We will wait for the appropriate complaint. The DOJ will not be prevented from doing its own investigation if there is already appropriate complaint. That would be treated an ordinary case," she said.

Asked if this move was prompted by calls of National Democratic Front chair Luis Jalandoni for the release of "Morong 43", De Lima said that "we have to recognize the fact that this will help in the peace process as it shows good faith and seriousness of this government in addressing human rights cases."

The inquest proceedings were conducted on Feb. 7 or a day after the health workers were arrested by a raiding team composed of military and police officers at a farmhouse located at 266 Dela Paz Street. Barangay Maybangcal, Morong, Rizal.

The "Morong 43" were arrested on suspicion that they are members of the communist New People’s Army. (PNA) RMA/PFN

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