Palparan and his men must face a swift trial towards imprisonment

Today is the first hearing in the Department of Justice’s preliminary investigation on the criminal case against Ret. Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr.  and the other officers and men of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for the continued disappearance of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño.  "If presented with a chance, how we would love to let Palparan, Jr and the other AFP men feel the pain they inflicted on our daughters, but we know they deserve more punishment than that," mothers of the missing University of the Philippines students said during the hearing. 

Mrs. Erlinda T. Cadapan and Mrs. Concepcion E. Empeño filed criminal cases of rape, serious physical injuries, arbitrary detention and maltreatment of prisoners against retired General Palparan, Jr. and other members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines namely, Lieutenant Colonels Rogelio Boac and Felipe Anotado, 2nd Lieutenant Francis Mirabelle Samson, Master Sergeants Donald Caigas and Rizal Hilario.

"The Butcher" as human rights organizations refer to Palparan, has long been linked with several human rights violations cases during his tour of command in several regions such as the brutal abduction and murder of human rights advocates Eden Marcellana and Eddie Gumanoy in Mindoro, and several cases of abductions and disappearance, killings and torture in Southern Tagalog, Eastern Visayas, and the Central Luzon regions.

At today's hearing, witnesses who swore to have seen Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan either being abducted by the military or was under military custody will affirm the affidavits they have executed. The military respondents are also summoned to personally appear in court.

"We look forward to see and face Butcher Palparan in court," Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan chairperson says, as she remembers other court cases filed before against the "Butcher" in which his name was eventually not included so those cases never prospered. In the Eden Marcellana-Edddie Gumanoy case, for instance, the DOJ , then at the time under Secretary Raul Gonzales, dismissed the case four times; the repeated dismissal led the relatives and human rights organizations to file the complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee which handed down very positive “Views” on the case in 2008; but the GMA government never complied with. “This time, we hope that the case will prosper and the violators will be made to pay for their crimes against humanity.  This will be a step towards ending impunity,” Enriquez hopefully says.

Meanwhile, Families of Desaparecidos for Justice gathered together with the families, friends, supporters of Karen and Sherlyn and other human rights defenders in front of the DOJ to show their support to the Empeño and Cadapan families. "This is an important event for other families of the disappeared as well," Mary Guy Portajada, secretary general of Desaparecidos says. She explains that a lot more who disappeared under the command of the Butcher had no strong evidence to implicate him and his troops in court. "We hope that through this case, Gen. Palparan, Jr. will get what he deserves - imprisonment," Portajada continues. "Perpetrators of human rights violators must be made accountable and pay for their crimes.  This way, victims can be served justice and the public’s confidence in government can be slowly restored," Portajada concludes. ###


HUSTISYA Press Release 

Mothers of missing UP students, witnesses, face off with the “Butcher”

“We only want Palparan behind bars”


“We know this is just the beginning of the path towards justice. We would like to see Palparan behind bars.” 

Thus expressed victims of human rights violations and their families as they troop to the Department of Justice today, on the first hearing of the criminal case filed against Ret. Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. and other AFP officers involved in the disappearance of UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan.

“We strongly support the mothers of Karen and Sherlyn, and all the witnesses who have mustered all the courage to face the courts again to recount their ordeal,” said Cristina Guevarra, Hustisya secretary general, “It is time that perpetrators who have threatened and ruined so many lives feel what it is to be prosecuted and punished for their crimes.” 

On May 4, 2011, Erlinda T. Cadapan and Concepcion E. Empeño, mothers of missing UP students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, filed criminal cases of rape, serious physical injuries, arbitrary detention and maltreatment of prisoners against Palparan and other elements of the AFP namely, Lt. Cols. Rogelio Boac and Felipe Anotado, 2nd Lt. Francis Mirabelle Samson, Master Sgts. Donald Caigas and Rizal Hilario. This will be the first hearing of the DOJ’s preliminary investigation on the case.

Raymond Manalo, one of the key witnesses who was also abducted and disappeared by military elements and who swore to have seen, talked and been with Karen and Sherlyn at one point of their incommunicado existence, said he survived holding on to the strong evidence against Palparan, as well as his strong desire for justice for all the victims of the military’s bloody and cruel campaign.

“Kung tutuusin, kulang pa ang buhay niya sa lahat ng buhay na nawala. Kulang pa nga na makulong siya. Pero kapag nakulong si Palparan, kahit paano’y makakatikim ng hustisya sina Karen, Sherlyn, Tatay Manuel Merino at lahat ng mga biktima, (His life will never be enough for the lives lost. Jailing him is not enough. If he is imprisoned, however, Karen, Sherlyn, Tatay Manuel Merino and all victims will be given a taste of justice),” Manalo said.

In Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s counter-insurgency campaign Oplan Bantay Laya, Palparan was assigned in regions where cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances peaked during his command.

Hustisya is the national organization of victims and families of victims of state-sponsored human rights violations. Majority of them were  victims of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s watch. ###


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