CHR Hearing on Morong 43 to Test Validity of Arrest by Army Using Defective Warrants

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Chairwoman Leila M. de Lima of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will be in for another clash with the military in the March 18 hearing scheduled to find out the validity of the arrest of 43 health workers “arrested” by the military in Morong, Rizal last February 6.The hearing, scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., will take the testimonies of two doctors, a midwife, the wife of a well-known Filipino artist and educator, the daughter of the late Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran and 38 others who were taken into custody by soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division while purportedly undertaking training on the manufacture of explosives at 6 a.m. in the morning.Principal among the issues to be heard is the sufficiency of the warrant of arrest issued to a certain Mr. Conde by a Cavite court that soldiers served on the health workers. Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. had already condemned the use of a defective arrest warrant in apprehending the Morong 43 since the supposed target of the raiders was never captured.Pimentel regards the arrest as based on fiction, for which reason he tagged it as illegal and a violation of the human rights of the accused, all of whom were denied their right to counsel and visits by relatives and doctors for 36 hours.Lorena Santos, daughter of National Democratic Front (NDF) peace consultant Leo Velasco, also assailed the arrest of the 43 and stressed the military has the habit of using different shortcuts in pursuit of its counterinsurgency operations.Velasco has been missing for three years after he was whisked away by military intelligence agents in Cagayan de Oro City.De Lima said the hearing will be held in spite of the recent decision of the special division of five justices of the Court of Appeals (CA) to uphold the validity of the arrest after a supposed “valid” information was filed against those detained, thus “curing” the illegal nature of the arrest. …