The Commission on Appointments once again confirmed the promotion of Gen. Aurelio Baladad. Although we are not totally surprised, we are deeply disturbed since Gen. Baladad figured prominently in the illegal arrest, detention and torture of the Morong 43 health workers in 2010.
Both the Commander-in-Chief and Chief Executive, who recommended the promotion, and the Commission of Appointments, which confirmed the appointment, simply ignored this well-known fact. It is also distressing that Gen. Baladad was able to obtain a clearance from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) despite an outstanding complaint before it and the pendency of human rights related cases against him.
That military generals and officers who were involved in human rights violations are being promoted left and right and given responsible positions in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is reflective of the lack of sincerity and seriousness of the moribund Aquino administration to curb the continuing impunity in the country.
It is also a telltale sign confirming that human rights violations were, and are still, committed as a systematic scheme to get rid of those whom the government perceive to be “enemies of the state,” and those who effectively implement the scheme are continuously rewarded with promotions and juicy positions, and are being coddled even beyond retirement, like what they are extending to the greatest butcher of them all, Gen. Jovito Palparan.
In the meantime, victims and relatives, victims of human rights violations and human rights defenders are waiting in vain for justice to be meted out against the perpetrators.
Gen. Baladad was promoted twice since 2010. He was a colonel when he supervised the illegal arrest and search of the Morong 43, and now, he is a lieutenant general.
On the other hand, the cases filed by his victims, especially that of the Morong 43, are gathering dust in the court dockets. The civil case for damages has not even gone through pre-trial conference three years after it was filed, and the criminal complaint for torture against him, former president Arroyo and top military and police officers has yet to be resolved by the Ombudsman despite having been submitted for resolution more than a year ago.
All these confirm once again that serious and unresolved questions on a public officer’s human rights record does not matter at all. Up to now, the likes of Gen. Baladad have yet to fully and satisfactorily explain their role and knowledge in these rights violations.
The shimmer on his stars blinded those who collectively put him up there. But not all stars are clean and bright. #r
Ephraim B. Cortez
Asst. Secretary General for Legal Services
Atty. Edre U. Olalia
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)
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