“Palparan sees enemies everywhere. A person wearing red shirt is his enemy. A person who carries a banner is his enemy. People who demand jobs, decent wages, land to till, shelter — they are all Palparan’s enemies. So where will he go?” Aya Santos, Desaparecidos secretary general
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — Following the delay in the transfer of Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan to a regular jail in Bulacan, mothers of the two missing University of the Philippines students, along with human rights groups, said they will not allow the arrested retired general to further stall justice.
“We will not be fooled. We will not allow him to escape,” said Concepcion Empeño, mother of Karen, one of the two missing UP students.
Palparan, accused in the enforced disappearance of Karen and Sherlyn Cadapan, was arrested Aug. 12. He is currently detained at the National Bureau of Investigation’s office in Manila despite a court order directing authorities to bring him before the Malolos Regional Trial Court Branch 14 and to immediately commit him to the Bulacan Provincial Jail.
The NBI cited security risks in his transfer, saying that members of the New People’s Army are set out to kill Palparan.
“Actually, Palparan sees enemies everywhere. A person wearing red shirt is his enemy. A person who carries a banner is his enemy. People who demand jobs, decent wages, land to till, shelter — they are all Palparan’s enemies. So where will he go?” said Aya Santos, secretary general of Desaparecidos.
In a press conference on Aug. 15, other victims of Palparan joined the clamor to hold him accountable for the crimes he committed.
“Mothers of Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan and many more of his victims have already waited long enough. There should be no reason for any delay,” Santos said.
Lawyer Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers and one of the counsels of the families, said at the press conference that the law mandates authorities to bring arrested individuals to a nearest police station or jail.
Olalia said it is also impractical to travel all the way from Manila to Bulacan to attend court hearings. The Bulacan jail, he added, is only 40 steps away from the court while Manila is 42 kilometers away.
Security, he added, can be ensured anywhere by the government with all its resources. “Is (Palparan) saying that other law enforcement agencies are not capable of guarding him and protecting his life?” Olalia said.
Sending the wrong message
Since his arrest, groups have been calling on the government not to give Palparan special treatment. And there will be none, said government authorities, including De Lima and Malacañang.
“If you allow Palparan to stay in the NBI other than a police custody, you are once again sending a wrong message,” Olalia said, comparing the arrested general case to the “powerful” and “well-connected” such as Senator Juan Ponce Enrile who was implicated in the pork barrel scam and no less than former President Gloria Arroyo, both of whom are in hospital arrest.
Palparan claims that there are threats to his life and that he could not be transferred to the Bulacan jail as there are reportedly four members of the NPA detained there as well. Olalia, however, said they have received initial information that no NPAs are detained in the said jail.
Olalia said that the reported threats to Palparan’s life are “imaginary, unproven, self-serving and exaggerated.” Even so, he added that if Palparan deems all political prisoners – numbering more than 500 and distributed in jails nationwide – as threats to his life then where would he stay?
“Those are stupid and even foolish excuses for him to avoid the consequences of his action,” he said.
Palparan is ordered to appear before the Bulacan Regional Trial Court on Monday, Aug. 18 for his arraignment.
No more term extension
Santos said that while the arrest of Palparan “opens a window of hope, the battle is far from over.”
“Palparan is just one of the many perpetrators of enforced disappearances and other forms of rights violations and none has ever been convicted,” Santos said, “The same Palparan-terror continues today and is getting worse as the BS Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan is being implemented by the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines).”
With this, human rights group Karapatan asked where Aquino “pluck his ideas” that there is public clamor to give him a second term as president. Under the 1987 Constitution, a person can be elected president only once, for a six-year term. Thus, term extension for the president could only be done through charter change.
“Aquino’s gruesome human rights record is one of the reasons why he should be out of Malacañang; He doesn’t deserve the presidency, not a day more, and definitely, not a second term longer,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.
Ironically, Aquino is currently facing four impeachment complaints before Congress and has sliding satisfactory ratings in recent survey.
“How can he say that there are no more berdugos (killers) in the AFP? Haven’t the president heard of the massacre of anti-mining activist Juvy Capion and her two children by soldiers of the 27th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army? Didn’t he know the killings of Fr. Fausto Tentorio, fair trade activist Romeo Capalla and indigenous leader Datu Jimmy Liguyon by paramilitary groups?” Palabay asked.
”Where was he when elements of the AFP Southern Luzon Command illegally arrested and tortured security guard Rolly Panesa? Is he pretending not to know of the illegal arrest and detention of peace consultants Benito Tiamzon, Wilma Austria, Alan Jazmines that violated the JASIG? Where had he been?” she added.