Press Release
February 23, 2010

Statement of Senator Pia S. Cayetano

Issue: Awarding of Bronze Cross Medal to Col. Aurelio Baladad of the Army's 202nd brigade, and Lt. Col. Jaime Abawag, Commander, 16th Infantry Battalion, who led the illegal arrest and detention of 43 health workers attending a seminar in Morong, Rizal

"There's something seriously wrong when a government institution commends its personnel for committing an illegal act, in this case, the two military officers who led the illegal arrest and detention of the Morong 43. I'm appalled at how the military keeps announcing mere membership or affiliation with the NPA constitutes a crime.

Let me remind them the Anti-Subversion Law has long been repealed. Membership in a Leftist organization in itself is not a crime. But what is punished is the act of rebellion or overthrowing government thru violent means, and other acts defined in the Revised Penal Code. Doesn't the Department of National Defense (DND) leadership realize it's the AFP which commits a crime in wantonly tagging as criminals activists and NPA suspects?

The illegal arrest can't be treated as a purely military action because it involves a Constitutional issue and there was no gunfight or military encounter involved. Sec. Norberto Gonzales must invoke supremacy of civilian laws over military affairs. He should subject the two erring officers (Col. Aurelio Baladad and Lt. Col. Jaime Abawag) to a human rights refreshment course instead."

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