Victims to CIDG: ‘Why just now?’

FAMILIES of victims of human rights violations on Tuesday expressed doubts on the formation of another task force to catch high-profile fugitives including Ret. Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan and former Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes.

“I don’t know if creating task forces will ensure, or are even be effective in catching the fugitives,” Mika Ortega, daughter of slain Palawan broadcaster Gerry Ortega, said.

According to Ortega, the PNP-CIDG has organized manhunt operations to catch the Reyes brothers, the primary suspects in the killing of Ortega. They, however, remain at large.

“We know of nothing in the previous task forces whether they have actually caught and prosecuted the perpetrators. Why then will they form another task force?” Ortega added.

Erlinda Capadan, mother of missing UP student Sherlyn Cadapan, said she first appreciated the move but was dismayed at the PNP saying that Palparan and the other fugitives were hard to catch.

“Sa pagsasabi nilang iyon, para na rin nilang inaamin na wala silang kakayahan at lalong hindi sila seryoso sa kanilang tungkulin na tugisin si Palparan (By saying that, it goes to show that they have admitted their incapability or they are not even serious with their job to apprehend Palparan),” Cadapan said.

Meanwhile, Oscar Empeño, father of Karen who was abducted along with Sherlyn in 2006, asked whether the PNP had looked for Palparan in the ranks of the military.

“Hinanap na ba siya sa hanay ng mga military na dati niyang pinamumunuan? (Have they looked for him among the ranks of the military whom he once led?),” Empeño asked.

Human rights organization Hustisya believed that the government’s formation of task forces in the past were futile in prosecuting perpetrators of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.

“The formation of task force is like a ready-made template of the PNP when a high-profile case is being addressed,” Hustisya secretary general Cristina Guevarra said.

The Task Force Usig, formed under the Macapagal-Arroyo

administration was criticized by human rights groups as mere “cover-up” on the spate of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and other human rights violations.

“We are even suspicious of the timing of the formation of the task force, now that the Philippines is currently undergoing the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Human Rights Council. It has been more than five months now since Palparan was ordered arrested and more than a month since ex-Governer Joel Reyes was also issued a warrant of arrest; why would a task force of this nature be formed at this time? Is this just for show?” Guevarra explained

The UPR will review the national report of the Philippine government and measure it against it pledges and commitments during the first cycle of the UPR and when it applied for membership in the UN Human Rights Council.

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