By RONALYN V. OLEA
Under the doctrine of command responsibility, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was made respondent to the complaint filed by 43 health workers before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
The CHR, in the exercise of its investigative powers, issued an order, dated February 26 and released March 2, directing Arroyo, certain cabinet officials and military officers to respond to the allegations of human rights violations committed against the 43 health workers.
On February 25, the 43 health workers, through their counsels, filed a complaint against the military and police for human rights violations. Dubbed as Morong 43, the health workers were arrested February 6 and have since been detained at Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal. The military claimed that the detainees are members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
Arroyo, as AFP commander-in-chief, Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno are ‘impleaded due to their command and direct responsibility for the acts allegedly committed by their subordinates,’ the CHR said in its order.
Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan chairperson, welcomed the inclusion of Arroyo as one of the respondents. “It is good that the President must be made answerable for the actions of the men and women in uniform since she is the commander-in-chief [of the AFP] and the implementor of Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL),” Enriquez told Bulatlat. The OBL is the counter insurgency program of the Arroyo government, which according to Karapatan, targets civilians.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Victor Ibrado, Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Jesus Verzosa, Philippine Army (PA) Commanding General Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit and PA Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM) Commanding General Lt. Gen. Roland Detabali, PA 2nd Infantry Division Chief Brig. Gen. Jorge Segovia, PA 202nd Infantry Brigade Commander Col. Aurelio Baladad, 16th Infantry Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Jaime Abawag, Commander and P/Supt. Marion Balonglong of the Rizal Provincial Police were summoned for their command and direct responsibility for the acts allegedly committed by their subordinates in these incidents.
“I gladly welcome the CHR order as this informs the public on the gross violations committed by the AFP,” Enriquez said.
Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera is also among the respondents for alleged complicity in legitimizing the commission of human rights violations, through the conduct of an allegedly defective inquest.
The counsels of the Morong 43 said their clients were denied their right to counsel during the inquest proceedings on February 7. Senior Assistant Chief State Prosecutor Severino Gana and State Prosecutor II Romeo B. Senson were ordered to submit their comment regarding this.