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Military to present 'Morong 43' today

MANILA, Philippines - The military will present the 43 health workers arrested in Morong, Rizal last Feb. 6 before the Court of Appeals today to determine the legality of their detention.

Armed Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr. said the security forces have drawn up a plan to prevent the New People’s Army (NPA) from snatching them while on their way to court.

“We have received information that there is really a possibility that the NPA may launch a rescue operation because the suspects apprehended in Morong, Rizal are high-value targets,” he said.

Speaking over dzBB radio, Brawner said it is possible that the NPA would ambush the military convoy taking the detainees to the CA in Manila from Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal.

“Definitely there are security plans for that and there has been coordination made,” he said.

“We need to work closely with other agencies like the PNP (Philippine National Police).”

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The Supreme Court has ordered the military to present the 43 health workers before the CA last Friday after granting the habeas corpus petition of their relatives.

However, the military failed to comply with the order.

Meanwhile, Commission on Human Rights Chairwoman Leila de Lima told the military yesterday to stop the psychological torture of the 43 health workers.

“Irrespective of who they are, alleged NPAs or not, they all have human rights,” she said.

“No one deserves to be treated inhumanely.”

De Lima said no allegations and traces of physical torture have been found on the detainees, except for one.

That detainee felt some twitching in his thighs, which he attributed to some form of electric shock, she added.

Some male detainees have injuries in their wrists due to tight handcuffs and two others have injuries around the eye due to blindfolding, she added.

De Lima said based on interviews with two barangay kagawads who witnessed the search, the military raiders did not plant evidence at the scene.

However, she agrees with the detainees’ counsels that the search warrant is patently defective on its face.

De Lima said the military’s failure to produce the 43 detainees at last Friday’s habeas corpus hearing was a dangerous precedent.

“It goes against the very essence of a writ of habeas corpus,” she said. - With Katherine Adraneda

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