“The silence of the Aquino administration is deafening. We believe that influential individuals in government and in the military are coddling Palparan.” – Karapatan
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — Wearing her faded shirt, Mrs. Concepcion Empeño joined the protest in front of Camp Aguinaldo, headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), June 26.
Her shirt bears the faces of her daughter Karen and another student of the University of the Philippines, Sherlyn Cadapan, who were abducted by state agents under the command of retired general Jovito Palparan Jr. exactly six years ago yesterday.
Mrs. Empeño and Mrs. Erlinda Cadapan, mother of Sherlyn, joined the nationwide search for Palparan who remains a fugitive more than six months after a local court in Bulacan issued a warrant of arrest against him for kidnapping and serious illegal detention. Together with other members of Desaparecidos, the mothers called on the AFP to bring Palparan to court.
“Enough with the rhetoric and seriously hunt down the most notorious human rights violator in the country,” Cristina Palabay, spokeswoman of Karapatan and convenor of End Impunity Alliance, said in a statement.
“We have been waiting for six long years for Sherlyn and Karen to come home. We demand punishment for Palparan and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for all the crimes they did to our loved ones,” Mrs. Cadapan said.
Coinciding with the United Nations International Day to Support Victims of Torture, members of Karapatan and other people’s organizations trooped to various military camps all over the country to search for Palparan.
“The silence of the Aquino administration is deafening. We believe that influential individuals in government and in the military are coddling Palparan. This is the only logical explanation why authorities have not found him until now,” Palabay said.
Palparan is implicated in numerous cases of human rights violations. Karapatan documented hundreds of cases of serious human rights violations in areas where Palparan had been assigned, particularly in Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon and Eastern Visayas.
In Quezon province, participants to the mercy mission and peace caravan organized by the Save Bondoc Peninsula Movement, stopped at every military camp and detachment in the towns of San Narciso, Macalelon, Catanauan and Mulanay.
Participants of the peace caravan shouted, “If you’re hiding Palparan, bring him out! The people are arresting him!”
The peace caravan visited the tomb of Eden Marcellana in General Luna, Quezon. Marcellana, then secretary general of Karapatan-Southern Tagalog, and peasant leader Eddie Gumanoy were murdered by members of the bonnet gang allegedly under Palparan’s command in April 2003. Before Marcellana was killed, Palaparan publicly labeled her as a member of the New People’s Army (NPA).
Orly Marcellana, husband of the slain human rights worker and spokesman of the Save Bondoc Peninsula Movement, joined the protests in military camps.
Between January 2001 to December 2003, there were 1,268 recorded cases of human rights violations victimizing 4,493 individuals and 1,721 families when Palparan headed the Joint Task Force Banahaw covering Laguna, the 1st and 2nd districts of Quezon and Mindoro, and later the 204th Brigade in Mindoro from 2000 to 2004.
In the same period, Palparan’s henchmen reportedly committed 69 killings, 34 cases of indiscriminate firing, 68 cases of physical assault, 50 cases of torture, 92 illegal searches, 190 cases of coercion, three massacres, 251 cases of harassment, 75 unjustified arrests, 41 cases of illegal/arbitrary detention, 10 enforced disappearances, 54 forcible evacuations and 123 cases of destruction and divestment of property, among others.
In Oriental and Occidental Mindoro alone, a total of 41 victims of extrajudicial killings were committed from 2001 to 2004, including those of Anakbayan member Ramon “Bong” Ternida and Anakpawis provincial coordinator Isaias Mañano of Calapan City in April 2001 and April 2004, respectively; the couple Expedito and Manuella Albarillo of San Teodoro in April 2002; Adrian Allegria of Mamburao in February 2004; and Naujan Vice Mayor Juvy Magsino and human rights worker Leyma Fortu of Calapan City in February 2004.
Meanwhile, in Tarlac City, members of Karapatan-Central Luzon held a rally in front of the Camp Servillano Aquino, headquarters of the AFP Northern Luzon Command.
Karapatan-Central Luzon records showed that 71 individuals were killed and 46 were abducted and have remained missing at the time Palparan was assigned in the region from September 2005 until August 2006.
In Cebu City, members of Karapatan-Central Visayas led a rally in front of the Camp Sergio Osmeña, headquarters of the AFP Central Command. The group condemned the torture and continuing detention of Ramon Patriarca, a peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
In other parts of the country, human right advocates posted “Wanted Palparan” posters in public places. The group also utilized social networking sites to call on the public to join the manhunt against Palparan.
Karapatan chapters in the Cordillera, Davao, Bicol, Ilocos, and CARAGA also held press conferences and fora.
Palabay said that under Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan, state violence continues. In the first two years of the Aquino administration, Karapatan recorded 76 victims of extrajudicial killings, 96 victims of torture, among others.