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2019 PMA hazing incident hounds Bacarro’s Southcom appointment

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A House deputy speaker on Thursday urged President Duterte to recall the appointment of Major General Bartolome Vicente Bacarro as incoming commander of the military’s Southern Luzon Command (Southcom).

In a news statement, Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro said Bacarro replaces Southcom chief and National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, who is retiring from the service on July 26.

“Mr. Bacarro is one of those responsible for the death by hazing of Philippine Military Academy [PMA] cadet Darwin Dormitorio on September 18, 2019. Darwin was a constituent of mine in Cagayan de Oro,” said Rodriguez.

He said the Baguio City police that investigated the case had filed criminal charges against Bacarro and then PMA superintendent Lt. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista.

However, Rodriguez said the city prosecutor’s office dismissed the charges against them and filed a complaint only against several of their PMA underlings.

According to the lawmaker, the Anti-Hazing law places great responsibility for any hazing incidents and irregularities on those who have supervision over such activities.

He said at the time Dormitorio died of hazing, Bacarro was the commandant of cadets and had direct responsibility over the activity that resulted in Dormitorio’s death.

Rodriguez said he and Dormitorio’s family could not understand why Bacarro had been promoted from one-star general as PMA commandant of cadets to two-star and now three-star officer.

“These developments are a grave injustice to my late constituent, his family and the people of Cagayan de Oro City,” he said.

According to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Bacarro would take over Parlade as South Luzon Command chief as soon as possible.

The President signed the former PMA official’s appointment last Monday, June 28.

Meanwhile, Parlade, in a separate statement, said he submitted his letter of resignation to President Duterte a month ago.

“I want to ease the pressure to the NTF-ELCAC principals who are being questioned by legislators for designating me in spite my being in the active service. There are so many legal bases justifying my appointment as constitutional but I will not belabor myself with those. I am happy that there are now six more civilian NTF spokespersons who shall carry on the fight passionately and with conviction,” he said.

Parlade, who tangled with legislators and various groups in the past due to his controversial pronouncements, has resigned, Camp Aguinaldo has confirmed on Thursday, but President Duterte has yet to act on his resignation.

A member of the Philippine Military Academy Class (PMA) of 1987, Parlade mandatorily retire from the service on July 26 and he would be replaced by Bacarro, the current commander of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division.

The incoming assumption of Bacarro, one of the only few recipients of the Medal of Valor in the history of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, was among the designations signed by Duterte in the military, which included that of Major General Romeo Brawner as commander of the 4th Infantry Division.

Bacarro is a member of PMA Class of 1988 while, Brawner, the Armed Forces Deputy Chief of Staff for Financial Management, is a member of PMA Class of 1989. Brawner will succeed Major General Andres Centino, who is now the commanding general of the Army.

“I have submitted my letter of resignation addressed to the President almost a month ago. I want to ease the pressure on the NTF-ELCAC principals who are being questioned by legislators for designating me as spokesman despite my being in the active service,” Parlade said in a statement released by the NTF-ELCAC.

Parlade said that as a civilian “citizen of this country” upon his retirement, he would continue his “patriotic duty to defend our country and end the 52 years onslaught of the CPP-NPA terrorists, whatever legal way I can.”

The military official has been the subject of complaint and even criticisms of the military as a whole by groups, legislators and even other private individuals for his penchant of “red-tagging” people.

Some senators had criticized his appointment as a spokesman of the NTF-ELCAC, a civilian body, while in the military service since the Armed Forces is supposed to be apolitical.

His previous pronouncements, including calling senators as “stupid” had been used by groups in opposing the anti-terrorism law, which is currently under review by the Supreme Court.

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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