Get Palparan and Render Justice to Other EJK Victims:
Time to Review Melo and Alston Report
Retired Major General Jovito Palparan has made the headlines once again. Though earlier suspected in having a direct hand in the Cadapan-Empeño case, it was only last December 15 that he has been finally charged with kidnapping and serious illegal detention of the two UP students who were abducted last June 26, 2006.
His deep-seated contempt for legal procedure and the rule of law is again seen by his refusal to subject himself to the on-going court proceedings. His apologists are asking for a fair trial for him. But how can he have a fair trial when he refuses to surrender?
Palparan’s career in the military is marked with shortcuts in “cleansing” the society of suspected leftist elements. The moniker of ‘the butcher’ was earned after leaving a trail of illegal arrests, torture and extrajudicial killings during the gradual constriction campaign in Central Luzon in the late 80’s, his stint as commander in Mindoro (2001-2003) of the 204th Brigade and as a Vice-Division Commander of the 8th Infantry Division based in Samar (February-August 2005).
Better late than never, the DOJ’s filing of charges against Palparan in the Cadapan-Empeño case is most welcome, but it simply created a mere “pin hole” in the wall of impunity. There are more than seven hundred cases of extra-judicial killings, disappearances and abductions that he is suspected to have been involved in, many of which happened while he was the top dog of the Northern Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
His performance in the Northern Command best exemplified the state policy of Arroyo’s counter-insurgency campaign. While taking the lead, other human rights violations happened in other parts of the country like in Isabela, Compostela Valley and Southern Tagalog. For a job well done, he was even praised by Arroyo during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) in 2006.
Sadly, Palparan is not an aberration.
He is merely an enforcer of a military establishment which has gained notoriety for its poor record of respecting and upholding human rights. There are others, less visible, still in active service under different state security branches that should be held accountable for their hand in the state-sponsored killings. The climate of impunity, of utter disregard for the rule of law and common decency, is with us to date. And these butchers-in-uniform likewise deserve to be brought to the bar justice.
From a mere pin hole to outright dismantling of the wall of impunity, now is the opportune time to go back to the 2006 Melo Commission Report as well as the 2007 Report made by Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, arbitrary, summary executions. Even back then, he has been pin-pointed as culpable in the spate of extra-judicial executions of progressives and activists.
The zealousness and contagious passion of Pinoy to go after corruption inside the military establishment in the government in general, the electoral fraud created by Arroyo and the reform in the judicial system is nowhere to be felt with regards to human rights violations. Unable to start the wheel of justice for the past victims of human rights violations, the military under his government continue to violate human rights. After two years, his Presidential Commission on Human Rights is still far away from coming up with a human rights plan.
Even dangling a million peso reward for the capture of Palparan is not enough.
This administration’s commitment to end impunity will immediately be measured in its ability to marshal its resources and the personnel of the police and other law-enforcement agencies in capturing Palparan. Pinoy has proven himself how to do it by the way his government filed the impeachment case against Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona. Maybe, it is time to look for Palparan inside the military camps.
The resolution of Palparan’s case will be a litmus test for Pnoy in his avowed adherence for human rights and democracy. And so with the other victims of human rights violations.
The victims and relatives deserve no less. ####