CHR orders AFP to answer complaint, present 43 health workers on March 18
The Commission on Human Rights has issued an order directing the Armed Forces of the Philippines to explain the legal basis of the continued detention of the 43 health workers nabbed in Morong , Rizal last February 6. The AFP is also directed, under pain of contempt, to present the 43 at a hearing scheduled on March 18, 9am.
The order was issued on February 26, a day after lawyers from the Public Interest Law Center and the National Union of Peoples Lawyers filed a complaint alleging human rights abuses in the arrest and detention of the 43.
The CHR ordered the respondents including AFP chief of staff Victor Ibrado, PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa, to answer the allegations within an non-extendable 10 days upon receipt of the Order. The respondents from the AFP and PNP were ordered to explain, under pain of contempt, why the 43 remain in a military camp instead of a PNP detention facility. The CHR also asked for a detailed inventory of the items seized from the 43.
Also directed to explain in his answer was State Prosecutor Romeo Senson, who was alleged to have denied the 43 counsel during the inquest proceedings. Judge Cesar Mangrobang of Cavite was also directed to explain his answer the circumstances surrounding the issuance of a search warrant which lawyers have assailed as being constitutionally defective.
The CHR asked the AFP to strictly and unconditionally observe, follow and implement provisions of RA 7438 which allows detainees access to counsel, relatives, doctors and priests or religious ministers at all hours of the day and night.
Those being ordered to appear before the hearing are the 2nd Infantry Division chief Maj. Gen. Jorge Segovia, 202nd Infantry Brigade chief Col. Aurelio Baladad as well as Judge Mangrobang, Prosecutor Senson, and resort owners Dr. Melecia Velmonte and Mr. Jose Manuel Velmonte.
The CHR has ordered the custodians of the 43 to present them at the hearing so they may affirm under oath the contents of their affidavits and answer clarificatory questions from the Commission.
From now until March 18, no harm must come to the 43 health workers. The AFP should immediately cease the interrogation, sleep deprivation and harassment being done to the detainees on an almost daily basis. There has been no let-up in the illegal acts of the AFP inside Camp Capinpin.