Karapatan: Capture of Palparan does not end impunity

"Let's get this straight. The arrest of Ret. Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan does not end impunity in the country," Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said a day after the capture of Palparan. "The machinery of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that perpetuates Palparan-style human rights violations against the Filipino people is very much active in implementing Oplan Bayanihan," Palabay said.
 
 
 
"The AFP generals and commanders who have the same anti-communist stance as Palparan are in key positions and are calling the shots. They even lauded Palparan’s campaign of terror against the so-called rebels that actually victimized unarmed civilians," Palabay added. 
 
Palabay said Gen. Eduardo Año, chief of the Intelligence Service of the AFP, who boasts of Palparan’s arrest is also accountable for numerous violations such as the disappearance of agriculturist Jonas Burgos. Año is said to have continued Palparan’s reign of terror in Central Luzon, after Palparan’s stint in the region. “Aquino glorifies Palparan’s protégés like Gen. Año by promoting them to higher positions in the AFP, the same way Palparan was extolled by Gloria Arroyo then,” Palabay added.

"The arrest of Palparan will not improve the human rights situation in the Philippines as long counterinsurgency programs are used to quell people’s dissent instead of addressing the root causes of the armed conflict," Palabay said. 

Palabay cited the case of University of the Philippines graduates, Guiller Cadano and Gerald Salonga, whom the police and military abducted and jailed on August 9. The illegal arrest, akin to that of the Morong 43 health workers jailed under the Arroyo regime, shows that the abductions and the filing of trumped up charges by the AFP continue. 

On July 27, 2014, hooded men abducted Benjie Gomez, who later ended up in jail for trumped up charges of murder. Gomez is a staff of Dinteg (Cordillera Indigenous People’s Legal Center) for its project “Enhancing the Capacity of Indigenous Peoples on Human Rights-Based Approach to Development” funded by the European Union. 

Gomez is charged with the murder of Cpl. Marwin Ybanez who was allegedly killed in an armed encounter between the AFP and the NPA in the Municipality of Leon B. Postigo, Zamboanga del Norte in December 2012. He is presently detained at the Bitoon, Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte District Jail. There are two more trumped-up charges pressed against him at the region’s Prosecutor Office.

"Extrajudicial killings continue," Palabay said. She cited the case of Hildegardo “Gil” Hernandez, a peasant organizer of Pagkakaisa ng Magsasaka at Tagapagtaguyod ng Ikalawang Distrito ng Quezon (PAMATID-CQ) who was shot in the afternoon of August 6 in a highway in Candelaria, Quezon province by a motorcycle-riding man. The killer came off from the motorcycle and shot Hernandez. Hernandez was already on the ground but the killer continued to shoot the victim. Hernandez died on the spot. 
 
As of June 30, 2014, Karapatan has documented 204 victims of extrajudicial killings under the BS Aquino government. There are also 21 victims of enforced disappearances, 99 cases of torture, 664 illegal arrests and detention, and 39,800 victims of forced evacuation. 

“These rights violations perpetuated by the AFP and the Aquino government will not be covered up the arrest of Palparan," Palabay reiterated, “for there are other Palparans in the AFP”.

Palabay specifically mentioned Palparan's pal, Gen. Ricardo Visaya, who is now the commander of the 4th ID in Northern Mindanao. Visaya, as notorious as Palparan, is accountable for the gross human rights violations in Hacienda Luisita, including the massacre in 2004 that killed farm workers who protested their PhP 9 peso wage and devious land distribution scheme within the hacienda. 

Gen. Año is the incoming commander of the 10th Infantry "Agila" Division in Davao Region. "This poses more threat to the people of the Davao region, specifically Compostella Valley who are already faced with terror by intense counter-insurgency operations," Palabay said. 

Gen. Año is also involved in the arrest of peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria-Tiamzon. The arrest is a violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) between the GPH and the NDFP. ###