The Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa eagerly welcomes the capture early this morning of fugitive retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan; but expresses at the same time apprehension that he will also be accorded VIP treatment in a “special jail” – like Janet Lim-Napoles and her “pork barrel senators” – and the lawsuits against him will drag on for years – like what happened to the Marcoses, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Ampatuans, and their ilk.
Dubbed “the butcher,” Palparan left a bloody and terrifying trail of murders and abductions of social activists wherever he was assigned an army command – from Mindoro, Romblon, Samar to Central Luzon provinces. Like a Grim Reaper, his mere presence in an area was a portent of increased number of extrajudicial killings or “salvaging,” forced disappearances of perceived anti-government individuals, and active harassment of mass organizations. Still, Arroyo lavishly praised Palparan for his “successful” counterinsurgency campaigns from 2001 to 2006, when he retired. He went into hiding in December 2011 when a court ordered his arrest because of the 2006 kidnapping in Bulacan of two UP students, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, who both remain missing.
Of course, no direct evidence was ever gathered and not a single witness has yet surfaced to implicate Palparan as the mastermind behind these heinous crimes. This is understandable since Palparan and his gang – not unlike the liquidation crew of gangsters and secret military assassination units during martial law – will ensure at all costs that incriminating proofs will be eliminated and would-be whistleblowers will be bribed or terrorized or “silenced” outright. However, an investigation of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) admitted that there was “certainly (circumstantial) evidence pointing the finger of suspicion at some elements and personalities in the armed forces, in particular General Palparan, as responsible for an undetermined number of killings, by allowing, tolerating, and even encouraging the killings.”
Sentro calls on the Aquino government and the judiciary to ensure that Palparan and his cohorts should be immediately imprisoned in regular jails and not be given special treatment. They should be tried and convicted promptly so that justice will finally be served to their victims and the latter’s families.
The government should likewise vigorously work to end the impunity of violence against the people and their organizations; this includes the speedy resolution of abductions and murders of trade unionists and activists, including two Mindanao leaders of the National Confederation of Transportworkers’ Unions (NCTU-APL-SENTRO) – Antonio “Dodong” Petalcorin and Kagi Alimudin Lucman – who were slain within the span of one month (July) only last year in Davao City and Cotabato City, respectively.