Karapatan: Marcos Jr.’s new DND, DOH secretaries were scraped from the bottom of the barrel

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has seemingly scraped the bottom of the proverbial barrel with his two newest appointees to his Cabinet — Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro and Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa.

During Teodoro’s stint as Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s defense secretary from August 2007 to October 2009, Karapatan documented 181 extrajudicial killings, 24 enforced disappearances, 20 cases of abduction, 99 cases of torture, 456 illegal arrests and 164 illegal arrests with detention.

Teodoro and Arroyo implemented Oplan Bantay Laya, one of the bloodiest and most brutal counterinsurgency campaigns to date. Under Teodoro’s term, there were 117,133 documented victims of indiscriminate firing, 148,044 victims of forced evacuation and displacement and 9,154 victims of hamletting. The use of schools, medical, religious and other public places for military purposes (in violation of International Humanitarian Law) victimized as many as 19,358 persons. Food and other economic blockades victimized 23,249 individuals.

We recall some of the victims of human rights violations during his time.

Victims of extrajudicial killings: Fr. Cecilio Lucero, Rebelyn Pitao, Dr. Rogelio Penera, Dr. Bartolome Resuello, peasants Manuel and Jocelyn Suarez and their four children, Edelina Jerus, Wilma Ambil, Charito Caspillo, eleven year old Halima Bansil.

Victims of abduction: James Balao (still missing), Melissa Roxas (tortured, surfaced), Pastor Rodel Canja (tortured, surfaced)

Victims of trumped-up charges: Elizabeth Principe (arrested and detained), Atty. Remigio Saladero (arrested and detained along with 74 other leader of organizations in Southern Tagalog), Randall Echanis (arrested and detained)

Teodoro, in an interview during his 2022 senatorial run, seems oblivious to the 1987 Constitution’s Bill of Rights, especially provisions on presumption of innocence, when he parroted the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s lines regarding counterinsurgency and red-tagging.

As for Teodoro Herbosa, health workers and the public in general still remember with disgust his red-tagging, insulting and injurious tweets when he served as adviser to the National Task Force on Covid-19.

Instead of addressing head-on the lack of hazard pay raised by protesting frontline health workers at the height of the pandemic, he resorted to red-tagging and dismissing the protesters.

He likewise slammed and red-tagged efforts by the UP Office of the Student Regent to provide assistance to the Philippine General Hospital after it caught fire in 2021.

And perhaps, most despicable of all, he dismissed the death of Baby River Nasino, who died of respiratory complications after being forcibly separated from his mother Reina Mae Nasino who was then jailed for trumped-up charges.

With such appalling records, the Filipino people have every reason to dread the appointments of these two abominable appointees and the paths that the DND and the DOH will be taking with them at the helm.