Long before supertyphoon Yolanda wreaked havoc in Eastern Visayas that claimed thousands of lives and damage to millions of property, Jovito Palparanâ€™s military-instigated tragedy first struck the region.
Two days after his arrest, victims and survivors of Palparan in the provinces of Samar and Leyte joined the call for a speedy convition of the “butcher”.
“I felt a sense of fulfillment, even a little, that Palparan has been arrested. We will look into filing more charges against him. He should account to his crimes in our region and to members of our church as well.
“We urge all other victims of Palparan to come forward and do the same,” said Emma Lapuz, widow of United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) pastor Rev. Edison Lapuz.
Rev. Lapuz and Alberto Malinao, a leader of local peasant organization, were both shot dead outside the former’s house on 12 May 2005. The pastor was then conference minister of the UCCP and chairperson of Karapatan (Katungod-Sinirangang Bisayas) in the region.
Palparan has earned the rank of major general in 2004 when he was appointed commander of the 8th Infantry Batallion of the Philippine Army, covering the area of Region VIII, the provinces of Samar and Leyte.
In a span of six months, from February to August of 2005, Palparan and his men unleashed a bloody campaign of terror and mayhem upon the people of Leyte and Samar and claimed 19 victims of extrajudicial killings, 12 victims of enforced disappearances and 25 victims of torture in Eastern Visayas.
“The killings in 2005 were intensive and wihout let-up. Only days and weeks separated the series of murders. Victims were leaders and members of different peopleâ€™s organizations branded by Palparan as fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army,” said Cristina Guevarra, secretary general of Hustisya.
On 14 March 2005, Atty. Felidito C. Dacut, regional coordinator of Bayan Muna Eastern Visayas, was shot dead by two unidentified men on board a motorcycle. Riding on a multi-cab, Dacut just came from a meeting at the the Bayan Muna regional headquarters in Tacloban.
Also, there were nine victims and survivors of frustrated killings. One of them was Dario Tomada, a peasant leader in Leyte, who narrowly escaped an assassination attempt against him inside his house in Kananga, Leyte on 7 May 2005. He and his brother survived the attack.
While in a sanctuary in Manila, however, he was arrested in July 2010 and is facing trumped-up charges of multiple murder as one of the John Does in the case, along with Jose Maria Sison and Satur Ocampo. Tomada is in detention at the Manila City Jail.
“Like what he did in Mindoro, Palparan hamletted communities of farmers and ordinary folks. They were hauled and forced to undergo intensive interrogations, coerced to sign documents incriminating themselves being rebels and made to appear as rebel surrenderees pervaded in the farflung communities,” said Guevarra.
Emma will be joining other victims of Palparan from Southern Luzon and Central Luzon to demand the speedy trial and conviction of Palparan on Friday.
“Communities in Eastern Visayas were subjected to food blockades, enforced curfews and regular census by the military. Suspected rebel sympathizers and activists when not being murdered in broad daylight were snatched out and never been heard,” said Guevarra.
A protest action will also be held on the next hearing of the kidnapping case against Palparan on 18 August at the Malolos Regional Trial Court. He is set to be arraigned on 28 February 2015.
Hustisya secretary general
Hustisya National Office
2/F #1 Maaralin cor. Matatag Sts.
Central District, Diliman
Quezon City 1100 Philippines
Telephone: (02) 434-7486 | (02) 435-4146
E-mail: [email protected]