Palace asked to release DOJ review of Morong 43 case

News Release
November 24, 2010

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan today called on Malacanang to make public the review conducted by the Department of Justice on the case of the Morong 43. The confidential review, which was in fact a reinvestigation of the case, was submitted by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima in October to President Benigno Aquino III and included recommendations on how to address the arrest and detention of the 43 health workers.

Aquino has gone on to say that the arrests were based on a defective warrant and that the resulting evidence are “fruits of the poisonous tree”. Malacanang however has yet to make public any of the recommendations made by de Lima. The DOJ report has been referred to the Office of the Executive Secretary for further review. Reports say that the OES review has also been completed.

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“In the face of the growing clamor for the release of the 43 health workers, we call on Malacanang to make public the results of the DOJ review and the Palace review. So far Malacanang has been non-committal to calls for the withdrawal of charges against the 43 health workers. The signals we’re getting tells us that Malacanang is not keen on initiating any moves that will lead the courts to release of the Morong 43,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“We are nearing the 10 month in detention of the 43 health workers. It has been almost two months since the DOJ submitted its review of the case. The facts of the case are quite simple. What is preventing Malacanang from releasing with the DOJ review? What is keeping Malacanang from withdrawing the charges against the 43?” Reyes asked.

Bayan said that Aquino’s repeated remarks that the case of the 43 was up to the courts seemed to indicate that Malacanang was washing its hands off the issue. “Palace officials have washed their hands off this issue so many times, it’s like a bad soap commercial,” Reyes said.

“It is not true that the president is powerless to secure the release of the 43. We have said it before: the surest way to secure the release of the 43 is for the DOJ to withdraw the charges against them. From there, the courts can order the release of the 43. That is well within the powers of the Executive. Why that power is not being used baffles everyone,” Reyes added.

Bayan said that on December 10, the world will be observing International Human Rights Day with the 43 health workers still likely behind bars.

“The Aquino government does not seem to consider the case of the 43 as a major embarrassment for its regime. It chooses to drag its feet, wash its hands and make the lamest excuses. It places the burden of releasing the 43 on the detainees and not on the State which was the one responsible for the illegal arrests and detention in the first place,” Reyes said.

“That’s not the straight path (daang matuwid). That’s just refusing to take responsibility,” Reyes said. (

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