NTF-ELCAC in the business of valorizing criminals, rights violators with Palparan’s SMNI interview

Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) is “desperately dipping its feet in the business of valorizing criminals,” human rights watchdog said on Friday, as it slammed NTF-ELCAC Spokesperson Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy-Partosa’s interview with retired general and convicted kidnapper Jovito Palparan. The interview was aired last Wednesday during the “Laban Kasama Ang Bayan” program of Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), the media network owned by Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, who is wanted in the United States for sex trafficking.

“It comes as no surprise that the NTF-ELCAC, through the unhinged Badoy and this pathetic excuse of a ‘media network’ owned by a wanted sex trafficker, is desperately dipping its feet in the business of valorizing criminals and human rights violators like Palparan to desperately further its rabid red-tagging campaign. After all, criminal minds think alike — yet such expectation does not make this despicable attempt to vindicate Palparan any less repugnant, especially when the families of his many victims still continue to cry for justice to this day,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

On September 17, 2018, the Malolos Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 15 found Palparan, Lieutenant Colonel Felipe Anotado, and Staff Sergeant Edgardo Osorio guilty of kidnapping and serious illegal detention in relation to the abduction and enforced disappearances of University of the Philippines students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan on June 26, 2006, while they were conducting research work among farmers in Hagonoy, Bulacan. Various witnesses have testified to Palparan and the military’s hand in the abduction of the two students.

Farmer Raymond Manalo testified at the Court of Appeals on December 18, 2007, that he first saw the two students at Camp Tecson in San Miguel, Bulacan in September 2006. He and his brother Reynaldo managed to escape from military detention in August that year after they were brought to Fort Magsaysay in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija. Manalo narrated in his testimony how they were tortured in military captivity; the two students, he said, were stripped naked, bound, beaten, and then raped with shards of wood upon the orders of a man called “Grandfather,” which he identified as Palparan.

Along with the disappearance of Empeño and Cadapan, Palabay asserted that “Palparan is a notorious human rights violator who left a blood trail in the areas where he had been assigned,” such as Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon, and Eastern Visayas. In probing the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of activists under the counterinsurgency campaign plan “Bantay Laya,” the investigating body led by former Supreme Court Justice Jose Melo recommended in its report that Palparan, “be held liable under the principle of command responsibility for killings in their areas of assignment.”

On April 21, 2003, Karapatan – Southern Tagalog Secretary General Eden Marcellana and Eddie Gumanoy, former secretary general of peasant organization Kalipunan ng Samahang Magsasaka sa Timog Katagalugan, were abducted in Naujan, Oriental while they were conducting a fact-finding mission to investigate the reports of abductions and killings committed by the Philippine Army’s 204th Infantry Battalion, which was then under Palparan’s command. Their dead bodies, which were found in Bansud, Mindoro Oriental, both sustained fatal gunshot wounds, while Marcellana’s face was smashed.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee, in a 12-page communication dated November 11, 2008, concluded that the facts of the murder of Marcellana and Gumanoy reveal the Philippine government’s various violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), such as violations of the right to life of every person, the right to liberty and security of persons and the rights of violated persons to effective remedies, and the State’s duty to ensure that such remedies are provided and enforced as stated in the provisions of the ICCPR.

“The NTF-ELCAC eagerly wants to whitewash, and at the same replicate, Palparan’s foul record of violations of people’s rights and fascist attacks against the people with Badoy’s revolting SMNI interview — but if Palparan’s conviction tells us anything, it is that red-taggers will face justice for their bloody crimes. This is a warning to Badoy and her cabal of red-taggers in the NTF-ELCAC: they will soon meet the same fate as the convict Palparan, and we will make sure of the latter,” the Karapatan official ended.