The Commission on Appointments yesterday confirmed the promotion of Col. Aurelio Baladad, who is now the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division commander, to the rank of brigadier general despite the opposition of the relatives and friends of the Morong 43 members.
Baladad was promoted with several other senior military officials, who were Brig. Generals Ademar Tomaro and Francisco Patrimonio, Oscar Lactao, former 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, and Jet Joel Velarmino, former 6th Special Forces Battalion in central Negros. They took their oath before President Benigno Aquino at Malacañang recently.
The CA also confirmed the ad-interim appointments of AFP chief of staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, former 3ID chief, and Velarmino, who is now the Army chief of staff.
The confirmation of the promotion of Baladad was vehemently opposed by human rights groups, and an arrested physician, Dr. Alexis Montes, who was among the so-called Morong 43 group of health workers, tagged as communist rebels, but ordered freed by the court.
Montes, who said he suffered torture that included electrocution, had impleaded Baladad among several military officials he sued before the Office of the Ombudsman, the Quezon City Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals.
Montes claimed in a statement he issued that President Aquino himself acknowledged the fact that the right of the Morong 43 to due process was violated when he declared that the illegal arrest and detention of the health workers was a “fruit of the poisonous tree.”
Ramon Santos de la Cruz, one of the freed Morong 43 members, who was among the three suspected NPA members, died Aug. 9 in an encounter with joint military and police operations in Bulacan, military records show.*GPB