One human rights violator is in jail because of the persistence and courage of victims’ families, eyewitnesses and human rights workers to work for justice. Ret. Major Gen. Jovito Palparan is now jailed in Bulacan after having been presented in court last August 18. He was arrested last August 12 for the abduction and torture of University of the Philippines students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan.
Palparan was the main actor in Oplan Bantay Laya I and II underwhich more than a thousand extrajudicial killings, and hundreds of enforced disappearances were perpetrated. Palparan was unleashed, lauded and hailed by then Commander in Chief Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He was made a role model for the implementation of the government’s counter-insurgency program and policy that resulted to the most brazen human rights violations perpetrated with impunity with 5 extrajudicial killings of activists in a week during its height. Oplan Bantay Laya was the State policy that legitimized the enforced disappearance of James Balao. It was the State policy that legitimized the extrajudicial killings of 9 farmer-hunters in the Cordillera from 2003-2010 and the extrajudicial killings of activists Romy Sanchez, Jose ‘Pepe’ Manegdeg III, Albert Terredano, Jose Doton, Rafael Markus Bangit and Alyce Claver.
Palparan’s being in jail is among the strongest testaments to State fascism. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the State are violators of human rights and they have to be held accountable.
What must be exacted?
It has to be exacted to hold Palparan and Arroyo accountable for their violations. It has to be exacted hold the other Palparans in the AFP accountable. It has to be exacted to stop the fascist State policies and the State that creates violators like Palparan.
Palparan is not the only butcher in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Impunity has not been shattered with his arrest.
The continuing violations committed by State security forces patterned after Palparan’s style and in implementation of State security policy remains. We speak of the continuing extrajudicial killings in the country since 2010. We speak of the massacre of Ama Licuben, Eddie and Fermin Ligiw in Abra by the 41st Infantry Battalion (IB). We speak of the extrajudicial killing of human rights worker William Bugatti. We speak of the terror brought about by State security forces who trample on people’s rights and do so with the premise that they will not be held accountable for it.
Villages in the Cordillera are currently subjected to militarization as troops under the 5th Infantry Division (ID) of the AFP implement Operation Plan Bayanihan. They wage war against the people, especially those resisting imperialist plunder and those asserting people’s rights and self-determination. Soldiers encamp in villages occupying schools, barangay halls and homes, inflict harm on women and children and desecrate indigenous socio-political structures and practices. Community people become targets of military operations or targets of reprisals of State security forces especially in the aftermath of their armed engagements with the New People’s Army (NPA). These are also in reminder of what Palparan did during the implementation of Oplan Lambat Bitag in the Cordillera in the late 1980s and early 90s and what he has yet to be accountable for.
It took years before the arrest of Palparan was made putting in question the sincerity of the Aquino administration to facilitate the delivery of justice. The arrest was done at this time when the Aquino administration is at its desperate throes of propping up its rule. The arrest was done while the Aquino administration implements Oplan Bayanihan which is no different from Oplan Bantay Laya. The arrest was done in contrast after political prisoners, men and women – now more than 500, were unjustly arrested and put behind bars because they were defying State repression and because trumped up charges were filed against them. The most recent case is that of Mr. Eduardo Esteban – a 60- year old businessman from Iloilo – arrested in Jaro, Iloilo and brought to the Abra Provincial Jail. For the PHP 5.8 M bounty to be collected, the AFP has alleged him to be the Mr. Manuel Esteban they have accused to be a top-ranking leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). Yesterday, August 20, the AFP awarded PHP 3.2 M to the “tipster” to the November 2012 arrest of Grayson Naogsan – son of Cordillera Peoples Democratic Front spokesperson Filiw Naogsan. Esteban and Naogsan are unjustly detained at the Abra Provincial Jail because of trumped up charges.
Working for justice is a continuing challenge. We stand by the Empeno and Cadapan families who represent all victims of human rights violations and their families in the case against Palparan and violators like him. The people’s courage and perseverance, in the end will prevail against the violators of human rights and against the fascist State.
Deputy Secretary General
Cordillera Human Rights Alliance
Mobile no. 09189199007
Cordillera Human Rights Alliance
55 ferguson road
baguio city, philippines
telefax: +63. 74. 443. 7159
telephone: +63 74 304 4239
cp: +63 918 919 9007