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Bishop Hails Morong 43 Case Dismissal

MANILA, Dec. 10, 2010—Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo has welcomed President Benigno Aquino III’s order to withdraw all criminal charges against the Morong 43.

Pabillo said over church-run Radyo Veritas that he was “delighted” that the government finally recognized the rights of the 43 health workers who were arrested in Rizal province on suspicion of being communist insurgents.

The prelate, who heads the CBCP’s National Secretariat for Social Action – Justice and Peace (Nassa) said authorities should strictly comply with the standards of due process before making any arrests.

As the country marks International Human Rights Day on Friday, Aquino ordered the Department of Justice to drop the cases filed against the health workers.

In a speech, Aquino said his administration recognizes that the Morong 43 were denied with the right to due process when they were nabbed and charged with illegal of possession of firearms and explosives.

“As a government that is committed to the rule of law and the rights of man, this cannot stand. Therefore, I have ordered the DOJ to withdraw the information filed before the court,” he said at the celebration of the 62nd anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

The 43 health workers were arrested by the military last February while reportedly attending training seminar organized by the Council for Health and Development.

The military, however, claimed the health workers were members of the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels undergoing bomb-making seminars and medical training.

Thirty-eight of the health workers are detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City while the seven others are still at Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal.

Aquino’s order also came seven days after the Morong 43 went on hunger strike for their immediate release. (CBCPNews)