Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Morong 43 dismayed over Commission on Appointment’s decision to promote Gen. Segovia

Members of the Morong 43 were dismayed over the Court of Appeals’ (CoA) ruling to promote Lt. Gen. Jorge Segovia to the grade of Major General today despite strong opposition from the Morong 43 health workers, health NGO Council for Health and Development (CHD) and human rights group Karapatan.

Although we did not have high expectations, we were still hoping that the Court of Appeals will give weight to our opposition because of the grave human rights violations we experienced in the hands of the military unit that Gen. Segovia led. But we were dismayed after finding out that the ‘deliberation’ the CoA called us in for was in fact a mere presentation of our opposition which obviously did not warrant any level of consideration from the CoA members who attended the meeting,” Dr. Alex Montes, one of the Morong 43 said.

Dr. Montes cited pending cases filed before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, the complaint for torture, Violation of Republic Act 7438 (Rights of Persons Arrested, etc.), and more recently, a criminal complaint filed by several members of the Morong 43 before the Department of Justice on Violation of the Anti-Torture Law, Violation of Republic Act 7610 and Robbery and had Gen. Segovia and Col. Aurelio Baladad as among the respondents as solid reasons why General Segovia should not be promoted.

The acts of torture were committed with the knowledge, acquiescence, tolerance, sanction, approval, and/or even upon the orders of Gen. Segovia, as then commanding general of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army. Gen. Segovia had publicly defended and justified his and his officers’ treatment of the Morong 43,” the doctors’ complaint read.

Upon the arrest of the Morong 43 on February 6, 2010, the arresting officers from the 202nd Infantry Brigade headed by Col. Aurelio Baladad which is under the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army headed by Gen. Segovia, together with members of the Rizal Police Provincial Office, deliberately failed to apprise the Morong 43 of their right to remain silent and their right to consult a lawyer of their own choice.

Before they were boarded into different vehicles, the arresting officers under the command and supervision of Col. Baladad, blindfolded the members of the Morong 43 and had their hands tied at their back. The blindfolds and handcuffs were kept for 36 hours straight. During this time and up to May 1, 2010 when they were transferred to Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Taguig, the Morong 43 were subjected to different forms of torture.

During the first few days of detention at Camp Capinpin, the Morong 43 were deprived of their right to be visited by their immediate relatives, to consult with their lawyers, and they were not given the opportunity to communicate with them.

Under RA 9745 or the “Anti-Torture Law,” Gen. Segovia is liable as the immediate commanding officer of the above-stated military unit. By his own act, omission or negligence, it led, assisted, abetted or allowed, directly or indirectly, in the commission of the acts of torture.

The Commission on Appointment asserted that its job is to determine whether an officer is “fit and qualified” for the appointment, hence, its members moved for the acceptance of the appointment of Gen. Segovia. Dr. Eleanor Jara, executive director of CHD argued that an officer should not be deemed “fit and qualified” for an appointment if his records show that he was a consenting body to the torture and human rights violation of 43 health workers. Pending cases against Segovia clearly show that he is a man of questionable integrity and does not deserve a promotion, Dr. Jara furthered.

However disappointing the CoA’s decision on the promotion of a torturer and human rights violator such as Gen. Segovia turned out to be, our groups and supporters will never give up in pursuing justice for the Morong 43 and all victims of human rights violations. We will make sure that all those who committed the crimes against us will be punished under the law – including Gen. Segovia,” Dr. Montes said.##

Dr. Alex S. Montes and Dr. Eleanor A. Jara
0927-9259413 | 929-8109

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