FORUM-ASIA: On the recent acquittal of retired major general Jovito Palparan

October 13, 2023

Dear friends,

We are sharing with you the recent statement of the Asian Forum on Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) on the recent acquittal of retired major general Jovito Palparan, a known human rights violator in the Philippines.

Karapatan is a member of FORUM-ASIA.

Karapatan Public Information Desk

The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) strongly condemns the acquittal of retired major general Jovito Palparan, a known human rights violator from the Philippines.

On 6 October 2023, Palparan–alongside five auxiliary forces of the military–were acquitted for the 2006 kidnapping and serious illegal detention with physical injuries of farmers Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo.

The Manalo brothers were abducted at gunpoint in 2006, following unproven accusations of involvement with an armed communist group. The Manalo brothers claimed they were detained and tortured by military personnel. Unlike most victims of enforced disappearances, the brothers lived to tell their tale. They escaped their abductors after 18 months of abuse. In 2015, Palparan alongside nine others was indicted for the brothers’ kidnapping.

Raymond later on became a key witness in cases accusing Palparan and other military members of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings. His testimony helped put Palparan in prison in 2018 for the disappearance of students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan in 2016. Like the Manalo brothers, both were red-tagged. But unlike the brothers, the two students were never found.

Red-tagging remains rife in the Philippines, disrupting the work of human rights organisations and endangering the lives of human rights defenders and ordinary people alike.

‘FORUM-ASIA is deeply outraged by Palparan’s acquittal. His acquittal is an injustice and an insult to those who have suffered violations committed by the very institutions that ought to protect us. FORUM-ASIA is in solidarity with all victims and survivors of human rights violations in the country. We urge the government to not let abusers evade accountability. A glaring manifestation of impunity in the country, the acquittal of Palparan is anathema to the spirit and letter of the Republic Act 10353 or the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012. The justice system must serve the people,’ said Mary Aileen Diez-Bacalso, Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA.

The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) is a network of 85 member organisations across 23 countries, mainly in Asia. Founded in 1991, FORUM-ASIA works to strengthen movements for human rights and sustainable development through research, advocacy, capacity development and solidarity actions in Asia and beyond. It has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and consultative relationship with the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights. The FORUM-ASIA Secretariat is based in Bangkok, with offices in Jakarta, Geneva and Kathmandu.

For media inquiries, please contact:

● Communications and Media Programme, FORUM-ASIA,