AFP to ‘Morong 43’: ‘Apology? Never!’
STANDING firm on its declaration that no human rights were violated, military officials yesterday said they will not apologize to the 43 health workers who were arrested early this year on a farmhouse in Morong, Rizal on suspicion of being communist rebels.
Relatives and supporters of the so-called Morong 43 said the military should apologize for their arrest after President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III ordered that charges against the health workers be dropped.
Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) chief Lt. Gen. Roland Detabali said that they see no reason to issue an apology for the arrest of the so-called “Morong 43.”
“Our conscience is clear when we conducted the military and intelligence operation and so we feel that we did not violate anything so there’s nothing to apologize,” Detabali told defense reporters phone patched briefing.
Detabali added: “We believe that our soldiers did their duty and we followed the rules of engagement and [we] have observed human rights, but by being in that movement (CPP-NPA), they should be the one that can answer if they need to apologize or not.”
Meanwhile, Army spokesman Lt. Col. Antonio Parlade Jr. said they will not apologize as he insisted that the 43 detainees are not health workers but are communist rebels.
“The Philippine Army will not apologize, we did our job, we did it well… there could be legal lapses, but our stand remains that they are NPAs and they are not health workers,” Parlade said over phone interview Sunday.
The army spokesman added: “It is for us later on to prove that these people are NPAs… what we released are NPA medics, not health workers, but that’s okay with us, their release is okay with us,”
The army spokesman added that they ae now making rounds of various army and military camps in the country explaining to the troops the “soundness” of the decision to release the Morong 43.
“What’s left for us to do now is to explain to the people, to our men and why it went that way, its a democratic society and we have laws and we are explaining to the people – that we have to follow the chain of command,” Parlade said.
Earlier, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman, Brig. General Jose Mabanta said the decision to withdraw the charges against the Morong 43 was a minor setback in the military’s anti-insurgency campaign.
“This is just a minor setback, we look at this as a probably lessons learned… This will further push us to improve our operations and next time not to repeat the same mistakes that we may have done in this case, but it is not for us to decide,” Mabanta said.
The AFP spokesman said that the fact still remain that the Morong 43 are NPA rebels with five of them already availing of the government’s Social Integration Program (SIP) given to rebel returnees.
“What I can say is five have so stated that they are NPAs, but if really is the at this point I would not like to discuss that… it is for the authorities to say or discuss or determine if they are NPA’s or not,” Mabanta said.