By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – After years of gloom, health workers saw a ray of hope as a local court denied President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s motion for reconsideration.
In today’s hearing, Judge Afable E. Cajigal of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 96 dismissed Arroyo’s motion for reconsideration seeking to reverse the court’s earlier decision junking the former president’s plea to dismiss the case against her.
Arroyo and her top military officials were sued for damages for human rights violations committed against the 43 health workers or the Morong 43. Six of the Morong 43 filed the P15-million damage suit in April last year. The Morong 43 were arrested in February 2010 and detained for ten months on trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
“We are elated that the court found the basis of our arguments valid and that Mrs. Arroyo and her cohorts have an equal peg in terms of accountability for the human rights abuses we underwent in the hands of our captors,” Dr. Alex Montes, one of the complainants, said.
In his decision, Cajigal said Arroyo’s arguments in her motion for reconsideration were “reiterations and mere rehash of the grounds relied upon in the defendant’s Motion to Dismiss.” The order explained that the Motion to Dismiss was “exhaustively passed upon” by Branch 226 of the QC RTC presided by Judge Ma. Luisa Padilla, which handled the case before.
In an earlier decision junking Arroyo’s motion to dismiss, Padilla said the allegations in the complaint are “sufficient to constitute a cause of action for damages.”
Cajigal, in his decision, found no “cogent reason to depart from the previous ruling of Branch 226” and denied the instant motion of Arroyo.
Montes deemed the court’s decision as “a small victory for the Morong 43 and all victims of human rights abuses under the Arroyo presidency.”
He added that today’s decision “only proves that no head of state or top military and police official can get away with what their minions on the ground do to innocent civilians.”
The pre-trial was reset January 31, 2013.
The decision was issued in time for the International Day to End Impunity.”
In May this year, the Morong 43 also filed torture charges against Arroyo and military and police officials before the Department of Justice.