NEW YORK — A local group here advocating human rights in the Philippines has expressed outrage at retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, Jr.’s impending entry into the Philippine House of Representatives this week. The New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP) stated the move “will surely result in more blood of Filipino civilians in the Philippine government’s hands.”
palparan’s entry into the Philippine House of Representatives as first nominee of the party-list gorup Bantay comes after a Philippine Supreme Court decision this week that increases the number of seats for party-list representatives to 32.
“The only house Jovito Palparan deserves to be in is a jailhouse,” said NYCHRP’s Lolan Sevilla.
Palparan, who was commanding officer of the 204th Infantry battalion which is based in Oriental Mindoro, was implicated in the 2003 double murder of human rights worker Eden Marcellana of Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) and peasant leader Eddie Gumanoy of Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK or Association of Peasant Organizations in Southern Tagalog), which put him under investigation by the Philippine Justice Department and the Philippine Congress. Despite these complaints of military abuses, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo promoted Palparan to brigadier-general.
Before retiring in 2006, Palparan led the Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Division in Central Luzon, where he was accused of ordering his men to hit civilians who would fail to present community tax certificates to prove that they were not NPA members. Palparan was also implicated in the abduction of two female college students from the University of the Philippines (UP) — Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño — after the two were accused by the military of being members of the NPA. A witness later reported that the students were indeed being held captive, heavily tortured and sexually molested by their military captors.
Even scathing accusations against Palparan hurled by UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings Philip Alston in 2007 did not faze Palparan in his defense of his military record. He retorted that Alston’s report on the state of politically-motivated killings in the country was “lacking depth.”
“It is unconscionable,” Sevilla continued. “Palparan’s entry into the Philippine Congress indicates that Arroyo responds to known human rights violators by giving them more power rather than criminalizing them, not to mention how this proves how the Arroyo administration shamefully chooses to remain complicit when it comes to human rights violations in general. We implore all international human rights bodies to condemn his entry into the Philippine Congress and demand that the Philippine government revoke Palparan’s seat in the Philippine House of Representatives at once.”
Arroyo’s Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita has already expressed excitement over Palparan contributing to “the passage of key legislation that could help resolve the insurgency problem as well as other security issues in the country.” (Bulatlat.com)