New Alliance to Hold
Palparan Liable for Rights Abuses
“Stop Palparan” is a
newly formed group that aims to consolidate and coordinate moves to
remove, investigate, prosecute and arrest the Philippine Army’s 7th
Infantry Division chief Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan.
By Jhong dela Cruz
Maxima Punzal, 64, of
Norzagaray, Bulacan was among the many women and men who had joined
together to seek the prosecution of Maj.Gen. Jovito Palparan, alleged
brain of human rights violations in Mindoro, Eastern Visayas and now in
Punzal’s 41 year-old
son Leo was felled by two shots from a .45 caliber pistol by two suspected
military men on Sept. 13 while finishing a banner for a client in his
shop. She recalled watching an afternoon television show when the
perpetrators, wearing bonnets, barged in the house and fired at Leo. Leo
died shortly after from a bullet that pierced his head, just under the
Punzal knew that her
son was an active member of the Anakpawis party-list group, but she was
unaware of the widespread killings and other attacks against activists.
Until her son became one of the victims.
Called “Stop Palparan”,
the alliance aims to fortify moves to remove, investigate, prosecute and
arrest the Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Division chief Maj. Gen. Jovito
Palparan. Stop Palparan aims to work for justice and indemnification of
all human rights victims.
In less than two
months since Palparan assumed post, the number of activists and civilians
killed in Central Luzon has reached 19, based on reports.
for Justice and Peace (EMJP) deputy secretary-general Lovella de Castro
called Palparan a “dangerous mind” under the present administration, as
allegedly shown by the string of killings in Central Luzon, in Mindoro
and Eastern Visayas where Palparan
was assigned to head the military.
De Castro pointed to
some pronouncements of Palparan during past Congress hearings and
interviews with the press. She quoted the general as saying that, “Bayan,
Karapatan, Gabriela, Anak ng Bayan are all front organization of the
CPP-NPA-NDF with Bayan Muna (partylist) as the umbrella organization,”
during a September 2004 hearing of the Committee on Civil and Political
Rights at the congress.
Back in Eastern
Visayas while commanding the 8th Infantry Division of the army,
Palparan openly pledged “to end anti-government rallies in Samar island
within six months” adding, “It should be complete. Clearing – dapat mawala
sila talaga completely rito at the fastest means available. So sa
pinakamaiksing panahon na puwede natin maayos ito...sila ang inuuna, ang
mga lider, kasi sila ang pasimuno ng gulo,” (They should be removed
completely from here at the fastest means available, in the shortest
possible time… They should be targeted first, the leaders, because they
are the initiators) he said in the radio program, “Express it at the
De Castro noted that
Palparan’s alleged “butcher’s character” (sic) shows whenever he opens his
mouth. During his stint in Eastern Visayas, Palparan announced the
military would be abducting one peasant every month from “rebel-infested”
barrios: “Pasensya na kayo sa paisa-isang kinukuha at ninunyutralisa natin
sa mga baryo...yung masasamang tao na nawawala, mabuti naman na mawala
sila. These are bad eggs. Gumagawa sila ng kagaguhan.” (Please excuse us
if we have to take and neutralize those in the barrios one by one. It is
good for the bad elements to disappear. These are the bad eggs. They
De Castro denounced
Palparan’s all-out support and leadership in forming vigilante groups:
“Nabuo yung Alsa Masa sa Mindoro noong dumating ako. Kumikilos ang mga ito
sa alanganing oras. Nakakatulong naman sila sa paglaban sa NPA. Gayundin
ang mga katulad ng RHB” (The Alsa Masa in Mindoro was set up when I got
there. It works during odd hours. They help in fighting the NPA, even the
likes of the RHB).
In an interview,
Palparan claimed the rebel groups he tagged as enemy “is just within the
civilian populace” which “allows it to move against us”.
On Oct. 25, barely
three hours after a forum on the rash of killings, Ricardo Ramos,
president of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union, was killed by
sniper bullets near his home in Mapalacsiao village, inside Hacienda
Luisita in Tarlac. The next day, four others were killed by suspected
In the morning of
Oct. 26, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance or Bayan)
leader Francisco Rivera and his companions Dr. Angel David and Van John
Maniti were killed by van-riding men who sprayed bullets on the three as
they rested after jogging. Before the day ended, at 5 pm, Anakpawis
Bulacan chair Federico de Leon was shot dead in Malolos City, Bulacan.
De Castro said that
even as cases of human rights violations blamed on Palparan were still
being documented and investigated, new victims were already being felled.
In Mindoro Oriental,
there were 30 victims of killings from May 2001 to April 2003, 25 victims
in Eastern Visayas from February to August 2005, and 19 from September up
to present in Central Luzon.
There were 12 victims
of frustrated murder, four in Mindoro Oriental and eight in Eastern
Visayas. There were 36 victims of forced disappearances, with five persons
abducted in Mindoro Oriental and 31 in Eastern Visayas. There were 66
cases of evacuation following a series of military operations, with 26 in
Mindoro and 40 cases in Eastern Visayas. In Mindoro island a total of
3,026 individuals and 1,559 families were affected while in Eastern
Visayas, 7,250 individuals and 5,223 families were affected.
appointed an ad interim major general while he was commanding officer in
Eastern Visayas in February this year. EMJP charged that his confirmation
as brigadier general was railroaded with the Commission on Appointments in
January 2004 to deny petitioners from filing their opposition.
Partylist Representative Liza Masa was one of the lawmakers who filed a
petition against Palparan’s confirmation. Masa vowed to block a pending
motion announcing Palparan as major general at the CA. Masa said they will
continue to urge fellow lawmakers to support moves to unseat and prosecute
Arroyo’s “hatchet man” saying there is a “general sympathy” among the
legislators for the victims, she told Bulatlat.
De Castro said
Palparan continues to enjoy his position of power because no less than
President Arroyo “allows him to do so”. In August last year, Palparan was
awarded a medal of valor for “exemplary performance” in his
counter-insurgency programs in Mindoro, and for serving the third highest
position in the armed forces as army chief of staff.
She said Palparan’s
deferred promotion, following orders by Sen. Sergio Osmena III to look
into the general’s performance of which rights groups and a handful of
lawmakers deemed questionable, has not quelled the general in his pursuit
to eliminate “enemies of the state”.
alliance, led by victims in Mindoro, Eastern Visayas and Central Luzon,
rights groups and civil libertarians, has declared Palparan a “failure as
an army officer.”
chairperson of Karapatan-Central Luzon, told Bulatlat the attacks
targeting progressive leaders in the region were aimed at suppressing what
she described as a growing resistance against the present regime.
She claimed there has
been an increase in the membership of progressive organizations which lead
the protest against two major issues in Central Luzon: the wage and land
issues in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, and the impending dislocation of
thousands of families in Bulacan to give way to the North Rail project.
She said that there
is a need for measures to protect their ranks, and that the new alliance
could serve as a “sanctuary for families of victims or those getting
According to De
Castro, the alliance will also participate in filing a complaint against
Palparan with the United Nation Human Rights Commission this November.
Also, Palparan will
face the class suit to be filed by victims’ relatives this December
following an indictment of an August tribunal by the International
Solidarity Mission finding President Arroyo, and the Armed Forces of the
Philippines, guilty of gross human rights abuses.
On Friday, rights
advocates and relatives of victims delivered a letter to Department of
National Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz, containing their demands for a
thorough investigation into the estimated 416 killings committed under the
present administration since 2001.
The letter was
received by Maj. Ernesto Cruz of the Headquarters Support Command, but the
group was barred from entering Camp Aguinaldo.
Visayas reported that simultaneous rallies were also held to protest the
politically-motivated killings in Catarman, Catubig, Lao-ang towns in
Northern Samar. the rallies pushed through inspite of army blockades in
the region. Bulatlat
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