Assignment of Morong 43 torturer Baladad to 3rd IDPA, a display of impunity

"The appointment of Brig. Gen. Aurelio Baladad as commanding general of 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army is an exemplary display of impunity under the Aquino government," Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan said. Gen. Baladad is among the military and police officers currently facing civil and criminal charges of torture and illegal detention of 43 health workers known as the Morong 43.

The 43 health workers were illegally arrested in February 2010. They were handcuffed and blindfolded for two days. Dr. Alex Montes said he was electrocuted while blindfolded. He could not walk for several minutes after that. They also underwent psychological torture during interrogation that happened during night time.  They were under extreme fear during their captivity because some of them were taken out of detention cells during the night, not knowing where they will be taken to. All these happened for several weeks while they were under military custody.
 
"This is the kind of impunity under the Aquino regime: torturers are promoted and rewarded with plum posts, placing them in positions where they systematically commit more rights violations," Palabay said.  "Baladad's assignment to the 3rd IDPA indicates the heightening of terror against the people through Oplan Bayanihan," Palabay said. Negros, which is part of Western Visayas, is among the first level priority of the military in the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan. 
 
According to Karapatan's documentation, nine out of 142 cases of extrajudicial killings under Aquino's Oplan Bayanihan happened in Western Visayas;while four of the 16 incidents of enforced disappearances were from Negros.
  
"Noynoy Aquino is placing Gloria Arroyo's henchmen and known human rights violators such as Baladad and now ISAFP Chief Gen. Eduardo Año as his first line of defense against the people's growing discontent," Palabay said.
 
A year ago, Karapatan filed an opposition to the promotion of Baladad as Brigadier General. Since then, he had been  assigned as commanding officer of the 9th Infantry Division PA in Bicol Region, also a priority area of Oplan Bayanihan, and as Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (J3) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
 
"Thus, with this appointment and promotion of rights violators, it is expected that more rights violations under the Aquino government are about to happen,” Palabay concluded. ###