Morong 43 victims slam Arroyo’s bid to dismiss P15M civil case

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FILE PHOTO: Some of the 43 freed Filipino health workers raise their clenched fists as they shout slogans upon their release from a Metro Manila Detention Jail in the Taguig City suburb of Manila on December 17, 2010 after ten months detention. The Morong 43 as they are called is suspected for being a communist rebels and was arrested on February 6, 2010 by soldiers and police during a raid at a house in Morong town, east of Manila. President Benigno Aquino directed prosecutors to withdraw charges of the 43 on grounds they were denied due process.  (Photo: JAY DIRECTO/AFP via Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: Some of the 43 freed Filipino health workers raise their clenched fists as they shout slogans upon their release from a Metro Manila Detention Jail in the Taguig City suburb of Manila on December 17, 2010 after ten months detention. The Morong 43 as they are called is suspected for being a communist rebels and was arrested on February 6, 2010 by soldiers and police during a raid at a house in Morong town, east of Manila. President Benigno Aquino directed prosecutors to withdraw charges of the 43 on grounds they were denied due process. (Photo: JAY DIRECTO/AFP via Getty Images)

Red-tagged health workers on Tuesday (April 19) filed their opposition to former President Gloria Arroyo’s motion to dismiss a civil complaint filed against her by six of the 43 health workers known as Morong 43.

The P15-million damage suit was filed by members of the Morong 43 against Arroyo on April 5, 2011, at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.

In 2014, the Court of Appeals (CA) also denied Arroyo’s motion to dismiss the same case, prompting a full trial on the case.

“Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is accountable for the torture, illegal arrest and detention and other grave rights violations against the health workers known as the Morong 43,” Karapatan Deputy Secretary General Roneo Clamor said, adding that the motion by way of demurrer “reeks of legal contortions meant to evade justice.”

Clamor’s wife, Dr. Merry Mia Clamor, was among the 43 health workers illegally arrested on February 6, 2010 in Morong, Rizal. They were tagged by the government as members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

The health workers were arrested on the alleged grounds of illegal possession of firearms and explosives, which has been dismissed by former President Benigno Aquino III, citing lack of due process.

Arroyo is the lead respondent in the said P15-million civil case filed by Dr. Clamor, Dr. Alex Montes, nurse Gary Liberal, Ma. Teresa Quinawayan, Reynaldo Macabenta and Mercy Castro.

Also named respondents in the said case were former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Victor Ibrado, former National Security Adviser and current presidential candidate Norberto Gonzales, Maj. Gen. Jorge Segovia, Col. Victorino Zaragoza, Maj. Manuel Tabion, Col. Aurelio Baladad, Lt. Col. Jaime Abawag, and Superintendents Marion Balolong and Allan Nobleza.

“There was deliberate disregard of the illegal arrest, detention, and torture of the health workers, without any public orders for the soldiers to halt their cruel and inhumane treatment of the detainees, despite numerous reports by the health workers and their kin, the Commission on Human Rights and other independent organizations and bodies,” Karapatan said.

Clamor added that GMA acts as a “kingmaker of sorts of Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte” to remain free from accountability.

The former president, who is also currently seeking election as Pampanga representative, has recently endorsed the Marcos-Duterte tandem following her party’s – Lakas-CMD – bid.

The Supreme Court acquitted Arroyo in 2016 of the plunder case involving alleged misuse of the P366-million intelligence fund of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. In 2019, she thanked President Duterte for "[providing] the atmosphere in which the Court had the freedom to acquit me of the trumped up charges of my successor and your predecessor."

Arroyo now runs unopposed in her bid to return to the House of Representatives.

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. The views expressed are her own.

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