Press Release
February 13, 2010

Pia tells military: "No one is above the law"; urges Malacañang
to stop defending AFP in "Morong 43" case

Senator Pia S. Cayetano today told Malacañang to stop defending the police and military officers accused in the illegal arrest and detention of 43 health workers in Rizal province last Saturday, particularly in the light of a recent Supreme Court order granting the writ of habeas corpus petition of the so-called "Morong 43."

"Instead of defending and justifying the actions of the officers being linked to the illegal arrest and detention of the 43 health workers, Malacanñng should sternly reprimand and instruct the Philippine Army's 2nd Infantry Division to immediately comply with the High Court's directive to present the detainees before the Court of Appeals," said Cayetano.

The lady senator expressed shock over the non-compliance of the military with the High Court's order at yesterday's hearing at the Court of Appeals where it failed to produce the 43 detainees. "The refusal of the military to comply with the High Court and our Constitution is a direct affront to our legal and democratic system," she stressed.

"I understand that the military has a job to do but to defy a court order is unacceptable. Are we back in the Martial Law era? Is the military forgetting that there are laws to protect our people , as well as laws to protect peace and order? They are acting like that they are above the law. Malacañang must see to it that the military will bring all 43 detainees before the appellate court in the next hearing set on Monday (Feb.15)."

Cayetano, who chairs the Senate Committee on Social Justice earlier called for a Senate inquiry into the "abuse of discretion and authority" of the military and police who arrested the health workers.

She personally visited the detainees at Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal last Thursday, together with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), a medical team and relatives of the Morong 43. She also held a one-on-one dialogue with the army's 2nd ID Commander Major General Jorge Segovia.

CHR chairman Leila De Lima had said the military had indeed subjected the 43 health workers to psychological torture when they were continuously blindfolded for 36 hours, handcuffed and were not allowed to sleep.

The rights chief led a CHR team to interview the 43 medical workers detained at Camp Capinpin. She said the health workers were allowed to use the bathroom with someone else to take off their underwear.

The detainees were also denied their right to seek the service of a legal counsel even if they were demanding for it during interrogation.

The military has accused the health workers as members of the communist insurgents under the New People's Army (NPA) and planning destabilization attacks against the government. The health workers denied the charges claiming they were in the province for a medical training seminar.

Executive secretary Eduardo Ermita on Wednesday however claimed the arrest of 43 health workers was legal and a product of thorough intelligence.

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