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Teodoro defends incoming DND chief Gonzales
In The Press Posted on November 14th, 2009.
Outgoing Defense chief Gilberto Teodoro Jr. on Sunday assured that protecting human rights would remain the utmost priority of the department even under its newly appointed head, Norberto Gonzales.
Teodoro, who will be turning over the post to Gonzales on Monday, was reacting to the detractors of the incoming Defense chief, most of them party-list leaders wary of extra-judicial killings allegedly perpetrated by the military.
“We have human rights programs and enforcement. I think that will not change," Teodoro said.
The Department of National Defense (DND) has supervisory powers over the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which militant organizations have linked to numerous abductions and summary executions in the past.
Party-list group group Bayan Muna believes that with Gonzales as Defense chief, the military will be “given more leeway to continue this murderous policy."
In a statement, Bayan Muna noted Gonzales’ knack of lumping legal mass organizations with the communist movement “and making its leaders and members targets for extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances."
Among those being blamed in the military are the disappearance of peasant leader Jonas Burgos in April 2007, and the abduction and torture of Filipino-American activist Melissa Roxas last May 19.
The military has denied involvement in abductions and summary executions.
Gabriela party-list Rep. Liza Maza said Gonzales’ appointment may pave the way for the military involvement in cheating in next year’s presidential elections. “His appointment six months before the elections is a foreboding sign," she said.
But Teodoro, who quit the Defense post to prepare for his presidential bid in the 2010 elections, urged Gonzales’ detractors to give him a chance.
“He is the choice of the President. He had served as DND secretary before, a civilian. That is the choice of the President and we must support her choice," he said.
Prior to his reappointment as DND chief, Gonzales has been President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s national security adviser. - GMANews.TV