Norman Bocar, the lawyer-activist in Eastern Visayas who had called for President Macapagal-Arroyo’s removal, was shot Sept. 1 in the fashion used for the execution of activists in the region and in Mindoro Oriental. Both places had been placed under the command of now Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan.
BY AUBREY SC MAKILAN
Was a former Bayan Muna regional coordinator in Eastern Visayas killed by a death squad allegedly formed by the controversial Army officer, Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan?
This question surfaced following the Sept. 1 assassination of lawyer Norman Bocar, formerly of Bayan Muna (BM or people first) and chair of the regional chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan – New Patriotic Alliance).
Bocar, who was also Samar province’s environment and tourism official, had just stepped out of an interagency meeting in Borongan, Eastern Samar, central Philippines before dawn of Sept. 1 when two armed men on a motorcycle shot him several times. He sustained several bullet wounds including on his head.
Manolito Serrano, former Pamalakaya secretary general, had earlier accused President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the military top brass of giving their “blessings” for the formation of a liquidation squad in Mindoro Oriental, where Palparan served as the commander of the 204th Brigade of the Philippine Army (PA). Serrano said Palparan was behind the formation of the squad as his “pilot project.”
Nestor Nirza, spokesperson of Bayan-Eastern Visayas, likened the slaying of Bocar and other mass leaders and organizers in the region to similar political executions in Mindoro Oriental. Two BM leaders in Eastern Visayas were shot and killed by men on motorcycles and using .45 cal. pistols, he told Bulatlat.
Nirza called for the investigation of death squads operating in Eastern Visayas. Palparan, who has been transferred to Central Luzon, had upon assuming the Eastern Visayas command in February this year vowed to stop the communist rebellion in the region in six months.
Nirza also said that Bocar’s killing only showed “there is a continuing reign of terror despite the transfer of Palparan.”
Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, said Bocar had been “in the frontline of protests across the region, all calling for the removal of Arroyo from the presidency.” The BM party holds Macapagal-Arroyo and the armed forces chief accountable for Bocar’s murder, he also said.
“President Arroyo is accountable for this latest murder of an innocent, civilian, unarmed leader of Bayan and Bayan Muna,” he said. “She knows full well the spate of murders of activists and other political dissenters in Eastern Visayas and elsewhere but she has refused to use her powers to stop it.”
The killing of activists and other government dissenters is included in the list of crimes appended to the amended impeachment complaint against the president under the charge of “culpable violation of the constitution.”
Meanwhile, Rev. Raul Domingo, a United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) pastor and secretary-general of the human rights group Karapatan in Palawan, is now in a state of coma after he was shot by suspected military agents last Aug. 20.
The Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR) said Domingo actively exposed and opposed the abuses of military, mining companies and destructive projects of the government against the poor peasants and national minorities in the province.
Palparan, who is described by human rights watchdogs as the “Butcher of Mindoro,” has been reportedly reassigned to Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija. During his stint in Eastern Visayas from February to May this year, Karapatan recorded 76 cases of human rights violations per month, more than 17 cases per week and more than two cases per day.
As of August, Karapatan-Eastern Visayas has documented 40 cases of forced evacuation in Samar affecting 2,433 individuals or 1,786 families, and 513 other cases of violations of international humanitarian law. Before Bocar’s killings, 25 cases of summary execution and seven cases of frustrated killings were recorded. (Bulatlat.com)