THE Sandiganbayan Seventh Division has dismissed the charges filed by a group of health workers known as the “Morong 43” against seven military and police officers who allegedly detained and tortured them in Morong, Rizal in 2010.
The court granted the demurrer to evidence filed by military officials Jorge Segovia, Aurelio Baladad, Brigadier Joselito Reyes, Cristobal Zaragoza, and police officials Jovily Cabading, Marion Balonglong, and Allan Nobleza.
“Hence, the court finds the evidence adduced by the prosecution insufficient to sustain indictment or to support a verdict of guilt thus, warranting the dismissal of the herein cases,” the anti-graft court said in a resolution dated July 1.
The accused were charged with violating Republic Act No. 7438 or “An Act Defining Certain Rights of Person Arrested, Detained or Under Custodial Investigation as well as the Duties of the Arresting, Detaining and Investigating Officers.”
The complainants were Jane Balleta, Samson Castillo, Mercy Castro, Dr. Merry Mia Clamor, Gary Liberal, Reynaldo Macabenta, Dr. Alexis Montes, Ma. Teresa Quinawayan.
The charges were filed by the medical workers who said that they were illegally arrested, detained, and tortured by uniformed men following a Feb. 6, 2010 raid on a farm house in Morong, Rizal where they were conducting a medical training session.
The law enforcement agencies, on the other hand, alleged that the 43 persons arrested were members of the communist New People’s Army and were, instead, training for handling explosives.
“The testimonies of the complaining witnesses failed to show accused’s participation in an alleged conspiracy. Conspiracy must, like the crime itself, be proven beyond reasonable doubt. Suppositions based on mere presumptions and not on solid facts do not constitute proof beyond reasonable doubt,” said the resolution. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras