President clears way for release of 'Morong 43'; orders withdrawal of charges

December 11, 2010 3:46 am 

MANILA, Dec. 10 — Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said on Friday that the Department of Justice has been ordered to immediately withdraw all the charges filed against 43 health workers who were arrested in Morong, Rizal early this year, for humanitarian reasons.

The health workers, collectively called the “Morong 43,” have been under military detention since their arrest on February 6 on suspicion that they were members of the New People’s Army.

Charges of illegal possession of explosives and firearms and ammunition were later filed against them with the Regional Trial Court and the Metropolitan Trial Court of Rizal.

Ochoa said a memorandum had been issued to the Department of Justice to carry out the order of President Benigno Aquino III for the “immediate withdrawal of information against the Morong 43.”

The President’s instruction paves the way for the release of the health workers from their 10-month detention in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

The dismissal of the cases against the Morong 43 is expected with the prosecution withdrawing the information.

“This represents the President’s commitment to respect human rights and to uphold the rule of law, a commitment that will be consistent regardless of the parties’ political affiliations,” Ochoa said.

“The quick resolution of this case is a priority of this Administration, as no one should be deprived of their liberty without sufficient basis.”

According to the Executive Secretary, Malacañang is optimistic that detainees could rejoin their loved ones in time for Christmas. (PNA)

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