• Court resets ‘Morong 43’ arraignment for July

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    The Sandiganbayan’s Seventh Division deferred the arraignment of several former military and police officers on the charges filed against them for allegedly preventing the eight arrested health volunteer workers to confer or provide them with a lawyer.

    The eight were among 43 health workers who were arrested in Morong, Rizal in 2010 called “Morong 43.”
    On Thursday, the court reset the arraignment to July 31 pending resolution of the motion for reconsideration filed by several respondents on the denial of their appeal to dismiss the cases.

    Former 2nd Infantry Division (ID) Commander Jorge Segovia and former 202nd Infantry Brigade Commanding Officer Aurelio Baladad, then-2nd ID Chief of Staff Joselito Reyes, then-2nd ID Intelligence Officer Cristobal Zaragoza, then Police Superintendents Marion Balonglong and Allan Nobleza and then-2nd ID spokesman Jovily Cabading earlier filed a motion to quash, describing the charge sheets as “fatally defective.”

    The respondents, who were charged last year with violation of an act defining rights of an arrested, detained or under custodial investigation, had argued that the charge sheets failed to state the date or the approximate date of the supposed commission of the offense charged.

    They also argued that the charge sheets were “duplicitous for alleging more than a single offense.”

    But the court, in a resolution issued earlier this month, said “in their supplemental motion to quash, the respondents, the accused recognize that the offense was allegedly committed in February 2010, a clear indication that they were properly apprised of the date…”

    “Second, the Informations do not charge more than one offense. As the accused allege, this court has already found probable cause against them for violation of Sec. 4(b) of RA [Republic Act] 7438 in its resolution dated January 10, 2017. To avoid confusion, the Prosecution has signified its intention to seek the amendment of the caption of the Informations from Sec. 4(a) to Sec. 4(b),” it added.

    The court said in part that “[g]iven the circumstances discussed, this court does not deem vexatious or oppressive the length of time it took for the Office of the Ombudsman to complete preliminary investigation and to file the Informations.”

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