Wednesday, February 17, 2010

General Lim to AFP: Respect the Rights of Morong 43

“Follow Gen. Lim’s example. Be real officers and gentlemen.”

This was the challenge issued by Belle Enriquez, Official Spokesperson of detained Brigadier General to the Armed Forces of the Philippines concerning the detention of 43 health workers suspected by the military of being members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

In a statement, Enriquez said the captors of the detained health workers should respect the rule of law.

“Whether they are combatants or civilians, is a non-issue. Due rights and privileges as provided and guaranteed by the law must be accorded to them. There must be no double standards,” Enriquez said.

Enriquez said the bemedalled soldier who is also gunning for a senatorial seat in the upcoming national elections is known for tirelessly advocating inside the military establishment the faithful adherence of its members to the rule of law as well strict obedience to the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ “Rules of Engagement.”

Enriquez said Lim exemplified this best last July 28, 2001, when his 42 Infantry Battalion stationed during that time in Ragay, Camarines Sur captured Mathias Rafael Padilla Din, an NPA member.

It was reported that as a prisoner under Lim, who was colonel during that time, Din was never maltreated nor abused. It was said that Lim contacted Din’s parents and was even brought to a nearby district hospital because of suspicion that the captive had typhoid or malaria.

Enriquez also said that inside the camp, Din ate three meals a day on the same table with Lim and was even fetched water for his personal hygiene use.

“I am telling this story not to accentuate that the detained health workers are NPA combatants. Rather, this story is being told to highlight the need for the AFP to follow its mandate, to be professional, if it wants to earn the respect and trust of the people,” Enriquez stressed.

“More than being simple military men holding guns, the AFP leadership down to the rank-and-file must become genuine officers and gentlemen of the people. If they are sincere in shedding their image of berdugos and human rights violators, I call on their highest sense to replicate Gen. Lim’s ideals and graciousness,” Enriquez concluded.