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Morong 43 charge former president

MANILA (Agencies) : Members of the Morong 43 have filed criminal charges against the former president of The Philippines, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, as well officers from the Philippine National Police and Philippine Armed Forces, for torture, arbitrary arrest and illegal incarceration.

They claim that during the period that they were held from the time of their arrest on 6 February 2010 in a military camp that some of them were tortured by members of both the police and the
military.

In a May 3 statement they named two generals, Victor Ibrado and Delfin Bangit; a lieutenant general, Jorge Segovia; and two colonels, Aurelio Baladad and Cristobal Zaragosa; together with 10 other officials from the police and military as being guilty of crimes against the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 and the rights of arrested persons or those detained or under custodial investigation.

They are also charging them with robbery of their personal affects and materials that were being used in the medical training day that they were attending at the time of the arrest.

Cristina Palabay, from the End Impunity Alliance, said that the government of Noynoy Aquino should act on the case and hold the accused responsible, as they are said to be committed by members of state security forces in the execution of the government anti-insurgency policy, Oplan Bantay Laya One and Two.

“President Noynoy Aquino said it himself, that the arrest and detention of the health workers are the fruit of the poisonous tree. It is, however, lamentable, as instead of immediately prosecuting those responsible for the illegal arrests and incarceration, the promotion of these military and police officers is being affected,” she stated on May 3.

“It is déjà vu, similar to the period of former President Arroyo, when Major General Jovito Palparan, who, despite many cases filed against him, had promotions and accolades heaped upon him,” CBCP News quoted Palabay as saying.

Karapatan and the non-governmental health group, Council for Health and Development Inc., have sent a letter of appeal to the Commission on Appointments demanding that the confirmation of the promotion of three of the accused, Segovia and Baladad, as well as a colonel, Jaime Abawag, be blocked.

While Abawag has no formal appointment, he has been included on the list for future reference.

“We understand that any officer who has a case pending against him in court must not be promoted. Thus, we take exception to the promotion and confirmation of Segovia and Baladad, as well as Zaragosa, who was promoted in February 2012, as they are among the respondents in the cases mentioned above. We therefore ask the commission if there are measures which it can take to rectify this transgression,” human rights advocate, Amaryllis Hilao-Enriquez, said.

She explained that on April 4 last year, six of the 43 health workers filed a civil case for damages under Articles 27, 32 and 33 of the Civil Code at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.

Segovia, Baladad and Abawag are among the respondents for illegal arrest, torture, arbitrary and illegal detention.

A complaint was also filed before the Commission on Human Rights on 25 February 2010 against Segovia and Baladad.

“Thus, their supposed promotions must not be allowed and the institutions that gave the clearances for such promotions must answer to the people,” Hilao-Enriquez stressed.