KARAPATAN dares AFP to open military camps to prove Palparan is not there

“The print on my t-shirt has faded,” said Connie Empeno matter-of-factly.  Her shirt displayed her daughter’s photo with the call “Surface Karen and Sherlyn.”  Connie is Karen Empeno’s mother, and it has been six years since she started wearing the shirt during ‘camp searches’ to look for her daughter and during mobilizations to press the government to surface Karen and Sherlyn.

Image of Palparan in stencil being painted by members of rights organizations   

Karen and Sherlyn Cadapan are missing since 2006. Today, June 26 2012 marks the 6th year of their disappearance, as it also marks the worldwide commemoration of the United Nations International Day to Support Victims of Torture.

KARAPATAN and its regional chapters marked the day through a nationally coordinated “Search the camps for Palparan” to impress on the Aquino government “to go beyond press releases and get serious in finding  one of the most notorious human rights violator in this country,” said Cristina Palabay, spokesperson of Karapatan. It has been six months since Gen. Palparan was issued a warrant of arrest by the Malolos Regional Trial Court.   

Palabay added that, “the Aquino government’s silence on the whereabouts of Palparan is deafening. We believe that Palparan’s like-minded friends who are influential both in the government and in the military institutions are coddling the butcher Palparan. This is the only logical explanation for the long delay in finding and jailing Palparan.” 

Aya Santos of Desaparecidos 

Palparan berdugo placard
KARAPATAN, Families of Desaparecidos for Justice (Desaparecidos) and other progressive organizations were in front the headquarters of the Department of National Defense at the Camp Aguinaldo along EDSA road to call the Armed Forces of the Philippines to ‘surrender Palparan’. “He (Palparan) should face his charges in court and be imprisoned!” Mary Guy Portajada, secretary general of Desaparecidos said. 

Other Karapatan chapters held similar activities. Karapatan-Central Luzon held a rally at the gates of the Northern Luzon command in Camp Servillano Aquino, Tarlac City, preceded by a forum on the Anti-Terrorism Law. Karapatan-Southern Tagalog stopped by the Southern Luzon Command headquarters at Camp Guillermo Nakar in Lucena City, on their way to provinces in Quezon where residents face various rights abuses by the military. Karapatan-Central Visayas conducted a protest action at Camp Sergio Osmeña in Cebu City to condemn the extrajudicial killings in the region and the torture of political prisoner Ramon Patriarca, a consultant of the National Democratic Front currently detained at the AFP Central Command in Cebu. 

Karapatan chapters in Cordillera, Davao, Bicol, Ilocos, and CARAGA mounted “Wanted Palparan” posters, and conducted fora and press conferences. Facebook users were also asked to mount the “Wanted Palparan” posters on their profile pictures or walls.

Faded shirt print of Karen 

“Six years is long enough to wait for the disappeared to come back home, for the families of the disappeared, we will not stop until Palparan and Arroyo is punished on their crimes to our loved ones,” said Connie Empeno. 

Karapatan said the failure of the Aquino administration to make accountable for their crimes Arroyo and Palparan comes as no surprise. The pattern of violations in the first two years of the Aquino administration indicates that it continues the legacy of military terror and violence under its counter-insurgency policy of Oplan Bayanihan.” The rights group has documented more than 76 victims of extrajudicial killings and 96 torture victims, amid the increasing militarization of rural communities.

The groups called on the AFP and Aquino administration to stop torture, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and other rights abuses. [ Camp Aguinaldo photos by Lito Ocampo]