Two of those who were recently killed in Central Luzon have had brushes before with Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, the man the victims’ relatives and friends claim as behind the killings.
BY DABET CASTAÑEDA
ANGELES CITY, Pampanga – The eldest son of slain Bayan Muna (BM) member Francisco Rivera, 34-year old Ricardo, was a picture of courage at his father’s funeral.
“Ang pagkamatay ng aking ama ay senyales ng pagsulong,” (My father’s death is a sign of the advancing people’s struggle) he said while staring at his father who lies in state at the Pangilinan Funeral Parlor in Angeles City, Pampanga.
The older Rivera, known to friends as Ka Kiko, died when unidentified men on board a white van strafed him and his friends, Dr. Angel David and Von John Maniti, while drinking coffee in a store in front of Rivera’s home in Barangay (village) Pulong Bato, same city.
All three died on the spot. Ka Kiko sustained nine gunshot wounds, most of which were at the feet and legs.
He was one of the five persons murdered in the Central Luzon region in a span of 21 hours, Oct. 25-26.
The alleged perpetrators, according to Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance or Bayan), were soldiers belonging to the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army (ID PA) under the command of Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan.
Since Palparan’s assumption of the post in September, 19 political dissenters have been killed in the region. The general has consistently denied the accusations but has said in media interviews that, “We have the authority to terrorize bad elements of society.”
Teresita, 53, Ka Kiko’s wife, said it was his husband’s “second brush” with Palparan. The first was during the general’s stint as commander of the army’s 24th Infantry Battalion which operated in Pampanga, Bataan and Zambales from 1985 to 1993.
Ka Kiko was then an x-ray technician at the Angeles City General Hospital (ACGH). He was a founding member of the Medical Assistance Group (MAG)-Pampanga chapter, an organization of medical professionals who took part in community-based medical services.
As early as 1985, Teresita said Palparan had ordered the arrest of her husband and some 50 other residents of the village where they lived. They were detained for a week and projected as New People’s Army (NPA) surrenderees.
Ka Kiko was not the only activist recently killed in the region who has had a history with the general. Bayan Muna-Tarlac provincial coordinator Florante Collantes has had the same predicament, Bulatlat learned.
Collantes was a union leader in Bataan in the mid-80s. A friend, who requested anonymity, said Collantes was hunted by the military in the province because of his union activities. Collantes went into hiding and later went to Manila where he became an urban poor community organizer. His activities led to his arrest in 1988. He went missing for a few days only to be found later by friends hog-tied, badly beaten and half-dead.
On the same year, Collantes found his way to Tarlac where he opted to stay. He became Bayan Muna provincial coordinator in 2004.
A month and a half after Palparan took the top post of the 7th ID, Collantes was killed, allegedly by soldiers, on Oct. 15 inside his house.
The Rivera family “expected” the death of Ka Kiko. They said he had been regularly receiving death threats since Palparan came back to town.
But the people whom their father had been helping need not worry, Ricardo said, because they would definitely continue their father’s legacy. “Kung inaakala ng mga pumatay sa Papa ko na masisindak kami sa ginawa nila, nagkakamali sila. Hindi kami manghihina, hindi kami mawawalan ng lakas na ipagpatuloy ang laban para sa tao,” (If my father’s killers thought we would be cowed by what they’ve done, they are mistaken. We will not weaken, we will continue to fight for the people) he said.
Ricardo, who is also a Bayan Muna volunteer, was 14 years old when he joined the militant League of Filipino Students (LFS) in 1985. He said he has found a good example in his father who continued to serve the people despite the hardships and harassment from the military. (Bulatlat.com)