Human rights advocates troop to Aquino’s house

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HUMAN rights group Karapatan with relatives of desaparecidos, banged the gates of Pres. Aquino’s house at Times St., Quezon City to protest the much-delayed arrest of former General Jovito Palparan Jr.

A year ago, on December 17, the Malolos Regional Trial Court Branch 14 issued a warrant of arrest for Palparan for charges of kidnapping and illegal detention of two University of the Philippines students, Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan.  To date, Gen. Palaran remains scot-free despite the P2-million bounty for his arrest.

“We are no longer interested in what the President would say to diminish the anger of the families of the two missing students, like what he said to Mrs. Edith Burgos. We’ve had enough. We only want Palparan in jail, no less. It’s been a year, and it is unacceptable that he is still roaming around, free and unpunished for all the crimes he committed against the people,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.

“The families of Cadapan and Empeño have suffered enough and, on their own relentless efforts managed to secure warrants for the arrests of Palparan. It is time for the government to do its part,” she added.

Karapatan said that for all the claims of the Aquino government on its achievements on human rights, it has done nothing substantial to punish those who violated the people’s rights. “Palparan, like the Ampatuan massacre, is one of the symbols of impunity in this country. Yet, the government has not gone beyond public announcements to bring him to jail. As Commander-in-Chief, Aquino has all the power in his hands to mobilize his men to find Palparan,” said Palabay.

Members of Karapatan-Southern Tagalog and Kasama-TK, currently camped at the Commission on Human Rights, joined the protest action. Palparan is also culpable in the spate of killings in Southern Luzon. He is linked to the abduction and killing of human rights defender Eden Marcellana and peasant leader Eddie Gumanoy in 2003, as the commander of the 204th Infantry Brigade in Oriental Mindoro at that time.  In a Commission on Human Rights Resolution dated March 16, 2004, Palparan was admonished for the reports of killings of civilians in Mindoro.  Then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was all accolades for him and promoted him to major general.

“Like his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Aquino is not doing anything to end impunity. He even promoted GMA’s Oplan Bantay Laya generals. Had Palparan not retired, Aquino would most likely promote him, too. Aquino has outdone GMA with his deceptive Oplan Bayanihan.  This counter-insurgency operational plan conceals its rapacity and savagery by pretending to be “people-centered” and peddling “peace and development—all trimmings to a poison cake.”  Palabay concluded.

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