Press Release, “Stop Daydreaming and Face the Music”
“Gen. Palparan’s incorrigible, remorseless and unmitigated demonization of defenseless civilians merits him a place behind bars more than a seat in Congress.” This was the statement of Atty. Edre Olalia, Secretary General of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), in response to reports that retired Major General Jovito Palparan was planning to run for a partylist seat in Congress in 2013 on the basis of his “expertise in security.”
“He should not be daydreaming this early. It would be healthier for him if he deals with the reality that he is facing and will be facing a string of multiple charges in different fora and that sooner or later, justice will catch up on him, “Atty. Olalia added.
Trying to smokescreen the strength of the evidence against him, Palparan manifested his intention to run for Congress in an interview during a break in the clarificatory hearing of the preliminary investigation conducted by a panel of the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the enforced disappearance of University of the Philippines (UP) student-activists Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan.
“The partylist system is intended to empower the marginalized sectors and not to perpetuate into power those who marginalize them. It is supposed to be a social justice mechanism intended to give more in law to those who have less in life and not to those who have destroyed many lives,” Atty. Olalia pointed out.
Palparan continues to label activists, progressive groups and members of Congress as enemies of the state. This fascist way of thinking and messianic delusions, according to Atty. Olalia, is the mindset for extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances as it makes no distinction between armed rebels and defenseless civilians and as it gives no regard to legal processes and to human rights.
Meanwhile, during the pendency of the preliminary investigation, Wilfredo Ramos, one of the eye-witnesses for the complainants, was approached three times in their barangay by military men to recant his testimony in exchange for economic considerations. Ramos vividly recognized a security aide of Palparan as one of the abductors. The aide was later named as Staff Sergeant Edgardo Osorio of the 24th Intelligence Service Unit of the Philippine Army based in Fort Bonifacio. “This is clearly a case of subtle harassment by the military in a desperate attempt to weaken the merits of the case and to relieve of any criminal responsibility all those who are part of the conspiracy,” Atty. Olalia commented.
Also, Raymond Manalo identified during the clarificatory hearing one of his abductors as Major Harry Baliaga, the identified suspect in the abduction of activist Jonas Burgos. Manalo is a human rights victim himself and an eyewitness for the complainants in the case of Sherlyn and Karen. “Baliaga’s involvement both in the enforced disappearance of the Manalo brothers and of Jonas only attests to the fact that security forces systematically perpetrate extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in that they should not be taken simply as individual cases of human rights violations unrelated to each other,”Atty. Olalia insisted.
Criminal Charges Against Palparan Nears Resolution
The clarificatory hearing last Friday concluded the preliminary investigation on the criminal charges against Palparan et. al. for the enforced disappearance of the two UP students. “The clarificatory hearing reinforced that the testimonies of the witnesses for the complainants were vivid, candid, consistent and straightforward.” Atty. Olalia noted. “This is as opposed to the telling inconsistencies between the testimonies of the respondents denying the accusations against them to save their skin.” In fact, Palparan was compelled to make damning admissions that further “connect the dots,“ he added.
“Given the strength of the evidence against Palparan and his cohorts, the context and the circumstances of the case and related incidents, we trust that there is a sufficient ground to hold the respondents for trial and that corresponding charges will be filed soon,” Atty. Olalia asserted. “We should not let up and be vigilant in ensuring that the perpetrators of this horrendous crime will be accountable for their felonious acts,”he concluded.
The legal team for the complainants and their witnesses include Atty. Julian Oliva, Atty. Ephraim Cortez, Atty. Cristina Yambot, Atty. Jobert Pahilga, Atty. Jill Santos and Atty. Olalia, all members of the NUPL. .#
Reference: Atty. Edre U. Olalia, NUPL Secretary General (09175113373)
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers was formally founded on September 15, 2007 as a nationwide voluntary association of human rights lawyers as well as law students, paralegals and legal workers in the Philippines, committed to the defense, protection, and promotion of human rights especially of the poor and the oppressed.