Karapatan welcomes CA decision implicating Palparan: What will GMA do now to her highly praised general?

The human rights watchdog KARAPATAN today welcomed the Court of Appeals decision implicating retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. on the abduction, torture and illegal detention of the Manalo brothers, as they reiterated calls to end impunity on human rights violations.

"This is encouraging news. We hope this will pave the way towards bringing the Butcher of Mindoro, his cohorts and others of their kind, to face the bar of justice," said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, secretary general of the Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights (KARAPATAN).

Enriquez added that they "vowed to continue its support for the quest of other victims and heirs in filing charges and monitor those still pending in different fora here and abroad.

The Karapatan official also dared Malacañang to act on this development and order the justice department to file charges against her favourite military official. "Will Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo now lift a finger to bring her favored general to face justice? We doubt that," Enriquez said.

Enriquez said the victims' families of Hustisya and Desaparecidos were also elated at the release of a Protection Order for Adoracion Paulino, mother-in-law of Sherlyn Cadapan who had been harassed by military elements after Sherlyn appeared at her home in April.

Palparan, MSgts. Rizal Hilario and Donald Caigas were implicated in the CA decision which issued the writ of amparo for the Manalo brothers. Brothers Reynaldo, 38 and Raymund, 26 were abducted Feb. 14, 2006 in San Ildefonso, Bulacan. They escaped in August this year, and had also testified in court for the amparo petition for missing UP students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño. Raymund had testified that he came face to face with Palparan while in captivity in Fort
Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.

In the amparo petition for the two UP students, Raymund had testified that he learned from Sherlyn that she was raped by three men, among them was Caigas.

"It's time that Palparan, Hilario, Caigas and other elements of the military death squads be made to pay for their crimes," Enriquez said. She said that the three had been implicated in the abduction and summary execution of Karapatan secretary general Eden Marcellana and peasant leader Eddie Gumanoy in Mindoro on April 22, 2003; and in the murder of Bayan Muna leader Edilberto Napoles and frustrated murder of Ruel Landicho in Mindoro on May 28, 2002 also in Mindoro.
Caigas, who is Palparan's close aide and subordinate from the 204th IB, had been arrested on another charge before but was able to post bail immediately. In the meantime, while the previous cases against him were pending, he was reportedly sent by the Philippine government to Haiti as part of the Philippine expedition there and is said to head a new unit in the military.

In the past years, efforts to make Palparan and his men accountable had been in vain, with charges questionably getting dismissed at the level of the Department of Justice:

  • On August 28, 2002, the Dept. of Justice dismissed allegedly for "insufficiency of evidence" the charges of murder and frustrated murder filed by Edilberto Napoles Sr. and Ruel Landicho against Col. Jovito S. Palparan Jr. and his close aide M/Sgt. Rizal C. Hilario on the basis of an eyewitness account of a survivor. The complainants had filed a petition for review on Nov. 4 the same year but the same was denied.
  • On the Eden Marcellana-Eddie Gumanoy case, on May 2003, the DOJ formed a Task Force headed by former DOJ USec. Jose Calida to investigate the said case. However, while it recommended filing of charges against MSgt. Caigas, then Col. Palparan was not included. The DOJ Panel eventually exonerated Caigas too purportedly due to "insufficiency of evidence," despite the positive and credible identification by 4 survivors-witnesses. Complainants filed a petition
    for review before the DOJ but Sec. Raul Gonzales sat on it for almost two years before dismissing it perfunctorily. The complaints have been dismissed by the Justice department in February 2004.
  • In May this year, an appeal was sent by the complainants to the Office of the President questioning the decision made by the DOJ under Sec. Raul Gonzales dismissing the charges of murder and frustrated murder against Col. Jovito S. Palparan Jr. and M/Sgt. Donald Caigas. However, up to this day, no action had come from Malacañang.

After trying practically all available local and domestic remedies and fora – administrative, judicial, legislative - Landicho, along with the families of Napoles, Gumanoy and Marcellana and another victim, Beng Hernandez, were compelled to also file complaints for violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights with the United Nations Human Rights Committee in 2006 in an effort to get justice.

Another victim, former security guard Oscar Leuterio, 49, had also filed administrative and criminal charges against Palparan before the Ombudsman in November 2006. Leuterio was abducted on April 17, 2006 in Doña Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan, and was tortured and illegally detained until he was released September the same year. He had testified in court for the Cadapan-Empeño habeas corpus petition that Palparan talked to him to make sure he was on the military side. ###