A senior military officer facing charges for the alleged illegal arrest and torture of 43 health workers in Morong, Rizal, three years ago is bowing out of the service on reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.
Lt. Gen. Jorge Segovia will turn over leadership of the Eastern Mindanao Command to Maj. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz at Camp Panacan in Davao City on Monday.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista will preside over the change of command, AFP spokesman Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr. said.
A member of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1980, Segovia was commander of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division when his men swooped down on a resort in Morong on Feb. 6, 2010, and arrested a group of health workers on suspicion they were communist rebels.
The workers, who came to be known as the Morong 43, denied being members of the communist New People’s Army.
The military filed criminal charges against them after firearms and bomb-making ingredients were allegedly seized from the group.
But then Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson Leila de Lima said the 43 were subjected by the military to “psychological torture” and were denied counsel. The CHR also said the arrest was based on a defective arrest warrant.
In December 2010, President Aquino ordered the withdrawal of the criminal complaints, which led to the release of 38 members of the group.
P15-millio civil suit
Four months after their release, six of the health workers filed a P15-million civil suit against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Segovia and nine others for illegal arrest and torture. The case is pending.
Despite the allegations of human rights abuse, Burgos credited Segovia with leading the military’s “comprehensive” humanitarian assistance and disaster response operation after Typhoon “Pablo” devastated the Davao region last year.
He said Segovia was also instrumental in the holding of the first National Youth Leaders Summit in October 2012, which was attended by over 700 youth leaders.
“Under his leadership, Davao City became a suitable pretext for the election of NYLS national officers,” he said.
Burgos said Cruz will be replaced by Brig. Gen. Daniel Lucero as commander of the 1st Infantry Division based in Zamboanga City.
Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Edgar Fallorina will take over the 1st Air Division of the Air Force, replacing retired Maj. Gen. Ricardo Banayat.
Fallorina, on the other hand, will be replaced by Col. John Estoesta as deputy commander of the 3rd Air Division.