Trial of ‘Morong 43’ case starts


THE Sandiganbayan’s Seventh Division on Tuesday started the trial on the charges against several former military and police officers over their alleged failure to allow eight of the 43 health workers arrested in Morong, Rizal in 2010 to secure a lawyer of their choice.

The prosecution called Mercy Castro, one of the eight health workers, to testify on direct examination. She said she saw her lawyer for the first time on February 11.

Castro who was among the 43 volunteer health workers, known as the “Morong 43,” were arrested on February 6, 2010.

JUSTICE Supporters of “Morong 43” health workers gather outside the Sandiganbayan office on Tuesday as the anti-graft court hears the case filed against military and police officers. PHOTO BY RUY L. MARTINEZ

Facing charges for violation of Republic Act 7438 or Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained or under Custodial Investigation are 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, alias Joey Reyes; then-2nd ID Intelligence Officer Cristobal Zaragoza; then-Police Superintendents Marion Balonglong and Allan Nobleza; then- Chief Insp. Manuel Tabion, alias Major Navarro and then-2nd ID spokesman Jovily Cabading.

In the charge sheets, the Ombudsman alleged that the accused officers did not allow the eight health volunteers to confer “with competent and independent counsel of their choice” in violation of their rights as persons arrested, detained or under custodial investigation.


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