Cries for Justice Pursue Palparan

When he retired and after his appointment to the National Security Council fell through because of widespread opposition, Palparan has evaded media attention – in contrast to his frequently hogging the headlines during his days in military service. He must have thought that by doing so, he could escape responsibility for the long lists of human rights abuses in his areas of assignment. Unfortunately for him, even in retirement, the cries for justice of his victims continue to pursue him.

BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Bulatlat

Shortly before he retired from the Philippine Army on Sept. 11, 2006, Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, Jr. made statements to the effect that he would still want to participate in the government��s counter-“insurgency” program.

He was to be given a post at the National Security Council (NSC) after his retirement from the Army, but this did not push through because of widespread opposition. Davao Rep. Prospero Nograles was reported to have taken him in as a security consultant, but both he and Nograles have denied this. Early this year he was involved in armed takeovers of a mining site and a port in Bulacan and Zambales, respectively. Lately he has been managing a jathropa plantation located on part of the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation (FMMR) – the same camp where he served his last assignment, as commanding officer of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division.

Through all these, Palparan has evaded media attention – in contrast to his frequently hogging the headlines during his days in military service. He must have thought that by doing so, he could escape responsibility for the long lists of human rights abuses in his areas of assignment.

Unfortunately for him, even in retirement, the cries for justice of his victims continue to pursue him.

The Supreme Court, in a ruling penned by Chief Justice Reynato Puno, recently upheld an earlier Court of Appeals decision linking Palparan to the abduction of brothers Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo, and found “convincing” Raymond’s accounts of how they were tortured by their abductors.

The Court of Appeals had ruled based on an Oct. 24, 2007 petition by the Manalo brothers for a writ of amparo.

The Manalo brothers were abducted by soldiers on Feb. 14, 2006 in San Ildefonso, Bulacan. According to Raymond, they were first brought to Fort Magsaysay. They were subsequently transferred to Camp Tecson in San Miguel Bulacan, and then to a safehouse in Zambales, before being brought to the headquarters of the 24th Infantry Battalion in Limay, Bataan. The last place they were kept in custody was a safehouse in Pangasinan, from where they escaped on Aug. 13, 2007.

Habang nakakulong ako, kinakausap ako ni Gen. Jovito Palparan. Nakita ko na si General Palparan

dati sa telebisyon kaya ko siya nakilala at doon sinabi sa akin ni Palparan na sabihan ko sina nanay na huwag nang sumali sa mga rally ng mga grupong mga (karapatang) tao at huwag nang dumalo sa mga hearing sa Camp Tecson at Limay, Bataan (While I was detained, Gen. Jovito Palparan was talking to me. I have seen General Palparan on television, that’s how I knew it was him. Palparan told me to warn my mother against joining human rights rallies and that they should no longer attend the hearings at Camp Tecson and Limay, Bataan),” Raymond said

Raymond also said in his account that he saw soldiers burning 54-year-old farmer Manuel Merino to death and that he saw them torture other detained activists – including University of the Philippines (UP) students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, who were abducted together with Merino in Hagonoy, Bulacan on June 26, 2006 and remain missing to this day.

Palparan is haunted by his past even in retirement. And expectedly so, considering the kind of past that he has.

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