Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume IV, Number 1 February 1 - 7, 2004 Quezon City, Philippines
From Mindoro to Iraq
the Philippine military, it has been customary to send errant soldiers
(“scalawags” in the AFP jargon) to Mindanao for tougher assignments. Col.
Jovito Palparan, Jr. is however considered an asset to government’s
counter-insurgency campaign and has been promoted to brigadier general. Human
rights groups are wondering whether his new assignment in Iraq is a way of
plucking him out of the hot seat he faces at home for alleged human rights
violations – or as yet another promotion.
Alexander Martin Remollino
(Palparan's reassignment is reportedly on hold, however.)
named by militant groups as the “Butcher of Mindoro,” has come under
investigation by both the justice department and Congress following reports in
connection with the abduction and killing of several activists and civilians in
Oriental Mindoro. He was also implicated in the abduction and summary execution
of human rights worker Eden Marcellana and peasant leader Eddie Gumanoy in April
hope he shows up today to face his (Palparan’s) accusers,” Ocampo said,
“otherwise we would be inclined to believe that he is being flown to Iraq to
elude this inquiry and the cases pending against him.”
Baghdad as in Mindoro, Palparan will be playing a familiar role in the company
of oppressors led by the U.S. occupation forces. In any case, I do hope Palparan
returns to the Philippines in one piece from his latest assignment. He has to
face the cases against him.”
from more than 500 American soldiers several other troops from “coalition
forces” have been killed in recent Iraqi guerrilla attacks.
was set to testify before the House Committee on Human Rights on Jan. 26 over
his alleged involvement in the killing of activists and innocent civilians in
Oriental Mindoro. He did show up later that day, although the committee was not
able to grill him for lack of time.
was supposed to appear again before the committee last Jan. 29, but failed to
Oriental Mindoro to Rizal
was assigned to head the 204th IB in the latter part of 2001.
from the Southern Tagalog chapter of the human rights group Karapatan showed
there were 27 activists and innocent civilians killed in Oriental Mindoro from
the time Palparan assumed command there until April 2003. Many of them were
coordinators and organizers of the legal progressive political party Bayan Muna.
had accused Bayan Muna, along with other cause-oriented organizations, as
“communist fronts.” He also claimed that those killed in Oriental Mindoro
under his command were supporters of the underground New People’s Army (NPA).
the most prominent cases in the Mindoro killings were those of Expedito and
Manuela Albarillo; Ruben, Rodriga, and Niña Angela Apolinar; and Edilberto
Napoles. Photos used for broadcast journalist Maki Pulido’s “I-Witness”
documentary on the Mindoro killings, showed the victims’ faces mutilated; for
example, one of the eyes of Manuela Albarillo was missing.
number of killings in Oriental Mindoro shot up with the deaths of Marcellana and
Gumanoy. The two activist leaders were heading an 11-man fact-finding mission to
investigate the spate of killings that had taken place in Oriental Mindoro under
photos of Marcellana and Gumanoy in Terror in Mindoro, a book on the
Mindoro killings published by the Justice for Eden and Eddie, Justice for All in
cooperation with the Ecumenical Consortium for a Just Peace—show their corpses
bearing marks of torture, with their faces mutilated beyond recognition.
was a colonel when Marcellana and Gumanoy were killed. In the subsequent
investigation by Congress, he attended a hearing wearing a star on his
shoulder—in spite of the fact that his promotion had not been confirmed by the
Commission on Appointments. Aware of the charges against him and a law
prohibiting the promotion of military officers facing complaints, senators and
congressmen refused to recognize him as a brigadier general.
May last year, Palparan was transferred to the 1st IB
in Rizal province. In the very week of his assignment, based on an
article by Bulatlat.com’s Aubrey Makilan, the chief of a barangay (village)
security force in Antipolo City was killed. Before that he was repeatedly
questioned by the military on his alleged connections with the NPA.
separate fact sheet released by Karapatan in opposition to his promotion shows
that Palparan’s record stretches back to the 1980s, when he was commanding
officer of the 24th IB in Central Luzon. He headed this army command until 1991.
his stint in Central Luzon, he was implicated in the abduction and torture of
peasant organizers and other activists.
September 1991, while elements of the 24th IB were stationed by a chapel in Sta.
Cruz, Zambales, about 100 townsfolk were arrested, interrogated, and forced to
sign “affidavits of surrender.”
Oct. 13-18, 1991, also in Sta. Cruz, Zambales, 10 families were forced to
evacuate as a result of shelling operations by the 24th IB. Three days later,
more than 1,000 residents of the same town were forced to attend a “peace
rally,” in which Palparan claimed that they were “rebel surrenderees.”
Central Luzon, Palparan was assigned to the Cordillera region. In 1992 alone,
based on an article in the May-June 2003 issue of Southern Tagalog Exposure
magazine citing data from the Cordillera People’s Alliance and the Karapatan
fact sheet, there were six cases of illegal arrest, five harassment cases, one
case of disappearance, one summary execution, one case of wounding, and two
cases of evacuation—all in Mt. Province.
was also involved in the torture of Marcelo Fakila, an official of the
Cordillera People’s Alliance-Mt. Province Chapter and a village elder of
last assignment before Oriental Mindoro was as head of Task Force Banahaw, which
covers Rizal and Laguna.
Laguna chapter of the human rights group Karapatan was able to record 61 cases
of human rights violations of Task Force Banahaw in Laguna under Palparan’s
command. Among these were seven killings of civilians—including a
five-year-old child—in 2001 alone. Bulatlat.com