Morong 43 lawyers to appeal CA decision Lawyers statement on the Court of Appeals decision on the habeas corpus petition of 43 health workers

Lawyers of the Morong 43 will appeal to the Supreme Court the decision of the Court of Appeals denying their petition for habeas corpus. We have no other recourse but to elevate the case to the Highest Court, lawyers from the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) and the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) headed by Atty. Romeo T. Capulong said today after the Court of Appeals issued a resolution denying their petition for habeas corpus filed in behalf of the 43 health workers still detained at Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal.

“In simply adhering to the outdated Ilagan v. Enrile, a notorious martial law doctrine, the Court of Appeals seriously disregarded the litany of blatant violations of the constitutional rights of these 43 health workers from the time that they were unlawfully arrested and the continued abuse of their basic human rights in the hands of the military,” said Atty. Capulong. It is clear that the CA has not mustered the courage to revisit a doctrine handed down during the Marcos dictatorship and has actually legalized the abuses committed by the military, he added.
The Court of Appeals followed the Supreme Court ruling in Ilagan v. Enrile in denying Morong 43’s petition. The doctrine declares that a petition for writ of habeas corpus becomes moot and academic once an information/indictment is filed in court and a warrant of arrest or an order of commitment is issued against the person detained.

On February 11, 2010, two days after the filing of the petition for habeas corpus, 40 of the Morong 43 were charged in a Morong court with illegal possession of explosives, while three were charged with illegal possession of firearms.

Atty. Capulong lamented that Morong 43’s right to due process has been gravely violated by the recent CA ruling. He cited the Umil v. Ramos case where the Supreme Court made an exhortation to all courts that in all petitions for habeas corpus the court must inquire into every phase and aspect of petitioner’s detention, from the moment petitioner was taken into custody up to the moment the court passes upon the merits of the petition, that only after such a scrutiny can the court satisfy itself that the due process clause of our Constitution has in fact been satisfied, and that if the conditions set by the Constitution or the rules are not met the petitioner must be ordered released.
He said his team of lawyers had asked the CA to look into the (il)legality of the warrantless arrest of the Morong 43 and to order their immediate release but they were flatly ignored.

It is high time the Supreme Court re-examine this antiquated doctrine which has served as a tool of the government, the AFP and the PNP to carry out the unlawful warrantless arrest and arbitrary detention of members of progressive organizations, Atty. Capulong stressed.
In the early morning of February 6, 2010, 43 doctors, nurses, midwives and community health workers were rounded up in the farm house of Dr. Melecia Velmonte in Morong, Rizal where they were attending a health training-seminar. They were blindfolded, handcuffed and taken at gun point to Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal. They were held incommunicado, some in solitary confinement, subjected to prolonged tactical interrogation and physical and psychological torture, and denied access to their relatives, lawyers and doctors days after their warrantless arrest. They are still being held in the military camp where the 43 victims continue to suffer violations of their constitutional rights.

For reference: Atty. Romeo T. Capulong 0917-8827923
Atty. Rachel F. Pastores 0927-9219539

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