Makabayan bloc says wary of Teodoro's return as defense secretary

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 06 2023 04:44 PM

Newly appointed Defense Secretary Gilbert 'Gibo' Teodoro. Photo from Teodoro's Facebook page
Newly appointed Defense Secretary Gilbert "Gibo" Teodoro. Photo from Teodoro's Facebook page

MANILA — Members of the House of Representatives' progressive Makabayan bloc on Tuesday said they were wary of Defense Secretary Gilbert "Gibo" Teodoro's return to the post, citing his past stint in the defense portfolio during the Arroyo administration.

In separate statements, the Makabayan bloc members also urged Teodoro to shun red-tagging, focus on the West Philippine Sea, and reinstate peace talks between the government and communist rebels.

House Deputy Minorty Leader and ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro cited Teodoro's alleged role behind incidents of extra-judicial killings and red-tagging during the presidency of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

"Hinahamon na lang natin si DND Sec. appointed Gilbert Teodoro na sana magfocus siya dahil pressing problem natin ngayon ay external threat. Kaya nakafocus siya dapat yung sa mga escalating na threat na nangyayari ngayon sa China ay nangyayari sa West Philippine Sea," Castro said in a press conference. 

(We are challenging Defense Secretary Teodoro to focus on our pressing problems, including the external threat of China's escalating aggression in the West Philippine Sea.)

Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas also noted that there were human rights violations during Teodoro's first stint in the defense department from 2007 to 2009.

"Hindi pa ho nawawala sa atin iyong hinihinging hustisya doon sa mga naganap nung nakaraan. They implemented the Oplan Bantay Laya; ito po ay isa sa mga bloodiest [and] most brutal counter-insurgency campaigns," she said, referring to the Arroyo administration's anti-communist military strategy.

(We have not lost our pursuit of justice for victims of the past. They implemented Oplan Bantay Laya, one of the bloodiest and most brutal counter-insurgency campaigns.)

"Kaya nandiyan yung pangamba natin na ito na naman magkakaroon ng mga matitinding mga human rights violations sa ating bayan," Brosas added.

(That's why we are concerned that human rights violations may be committed again.)

For his part, Kabataan Rep. Raoul Manuel urged Teodoro to intervene in the activities of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

"Tanong din kung ipagpapatuloy ba niya ang ginagawa ngayon ng ating militar na nagpapalitaw ng mga forced surrenderees," Manuel added.

(We are also wondering if he would continue the military's practice of surfacing forced surrenderees.)

Other House leaders and members, meanwhile, welcomed Teodoro's return as defense secretary.

House Speaker Martin Romualdez noted that Teodoro and newly appointed Health Secretary Ted Herbosa have much to contribute.

“They are welcome additions to the President’s immediate official family. Their wealth of experience and knowledge in defense and health strengthen the Marcos Cabinet,” Romualdez said in a statement.

“I think that most importantly, they will bring a civilian perspective to the defense and health sectors,” he added.

Iloilo Rep. Raul "Boboy" Tupas, chair of the House committee on defense and security, said that Teodoro's appointment comes as the Philippines creates defense cooperations with other Asian countries.

"Given the looming new chapter of the Mutual Defense Treaty and overall bilateral relationship between the Philippines and the United States, Secretary Teodoro, as alter ego of the President, has the unique and crucial responsibility of literally crafting that new chapter," Tupas said.


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