Rights groups launch “run for your life”

MEMBERS of rights groups, students, academe and joggers today ‘captured’ fugitive general ‘Jovito Palparan’ after a 4.4 kilometer run dubbed ‘Run for your life (this is not a fun run)’ around the academic oval at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

“ ‘Run for your life’ commemorates the abduction and enforced disappearance of UP students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño six years ago. The run echoes the call of their mothers Erlinda Cadapan and Connie Empeño for us to persist in looking for Palparan who remains at-large, six months after the Malolos Regional Trial Court issued a warrant of arrest for kidnapping and illegal detention,” said Gidget Estrella, convenor of Tanggulan Youth Network, one of the event sponsors.

Erlinda Cadapan and Connie Empeño and other members of the group Desaparecidos were accompanied by the runners in putting ‘Palparan to jail,’ “to illustrate the public’s vigilance in pursuing justice and to reiterate the call on the Aquino government to intensify efforts to arrest Palparan,” said Mary Gay Portajada, secretary general of Desaparecidos.

Cristina Palabay, Karapatan spokesperson said that “Palparan personifies the prevailing state of impunity in the country and the Aquino government’s tolerance for torturers and human rights violators like Palparan and his master Gloria Arroyo, despite outrage that extends from among those in the international community.”

Palabay, who was part of the Philippine UPR Watch who lobbied in Geneva, referred to the recently concluded UN sponsored Universal Periodic Review (UPR) where some 69 countries questioned the Philippine government on its human rights record. At least 22 countries specifically expressed concern on the continuing impunity and in particular, the spate of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture, while Australia made recommendations on the arrest of Palparan. The European Parliament, in their June 14 2012 resolution, also specifically pointed to the government’s “insufficient ability” to “effectively combat the widespread impunity of the perpetrators of such acts and tackle the politically motivated violence in the country.”

The activity is also a prelude to the commemoration of the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on June 26. “Sherlyn and Karen were both victims of torture in their captivity. The state continues to employ torture against those it considers as ‘enemies of the state’. Survivors of abduction and many political prisoners could attest to this,” said Prof. Sarah Raymundo of UP Kilos Na! And Karen Empeño’s former professor in UP Diliman.

Karapatan, to date, has documented 96 victims of torture and 76 victims of extrajudicial killings, 363 political prisoners and nine have been forcibly disappeared under the Aquino administration. Felix Pariñas of the All UP Workers Alliance said that the activity is a “tribute to the victims of torture and all other forms of human rights abuses, and is a way to give voice to the call for justice.”

“The Philippines may be a signatory to international human rights instruments such as the Convention against Torture but state security forces continue the use of torture and at the very least tolerates it, as none have been punished for violating the Anti-Torture Law. Palparan stands out as an example. Until the Aquino government acts to put ‘The Butcher’ and his master Gloria Arroyo in jail for the crimes they have committed and unless Aquino ends its OBL-rehashed Oplan Bayanihan, impunity prevails and more people’s rights will be violated,”Palabay said.


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