Tell it to Sunstar: Jovito Palparan

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Monday, August 25, 2014


IT WAS an ironic and pathetic sight to behold. Jovito Palparan, the most feared commander of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division and the arrogant favorite of then president Gloria Arroyo, acting like a cornered rat, was finally captured in Sta. Mesa, Manila last August 12.

It was one of the major achievements of the Aquino administration that the radical left and its adherents never appreciated for obvious but strange reasons.

The capture of retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan capped a three-year manhunt of one of the most notorious fugitives of the country.

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The Department of Justice said it right that flight means guilt and Palparan’s hiding for three years means he has responsibility for the disappearance of UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan.

But the kidnapping and abduction of the two UP students is only one of the many atrocities of Palparan during his stint as commander of one of the Army’s Infantry Divisions.

Tales of torture and summary executions of suspected rebels abound during his heyday as military enforcer of Arroyo’s campaign to end the communist insurgency by the end of her term in 2010. One of his victims, farmer Manuel Mireno, was burned alive.

Palparan’s bloody career, which earned him the monicker butcher or “berdugo” was practically encouraged by then President Arroyo when, in one of her SONAs, she acknowledged Palparan and showered him with praise and accolades before a gallery of
cheering congressional sycophants and bootlickers.

The counter-insurgency campaign of President Arroyo, dubbed as Operation Bantay Laya, provoked storms of protests not only from local civil libertarians but also from the United Nations.

In 2007, at the height of GMA’s power and Palparan’s notoriety, Philip Alston, a special UN rapporteur, made a report on the extra-judicial executions of civil society leaders, including human rights defenders, trade unionists and land reform advocates as well as many others on the left of the political spectrum.

Palparan’s obsession to exterminate the communist rebels reflects the mindset of some military officers identified with the lunatic fringe of the extreme right.

But the problem with this stereotype thinking is that it fails to make a distinction between the armed rebels and the social activists like land reform advocates and human rights crusaders.

That is the reason why most, if not all, of Palparan’s targets were not armed rebels but unarmed social activists like Karen Empeño, Sherlyn Cadapan, Raymund Manalo and other victims of his twisted mind.

To the mind of Gen. Palparan and others of his kind, all leftists, whether armed or unarmed, deserve no mercy or due process but only torture or summary execution to make this country safe for his brand of “democracy.”

Now Palparan, fearing for his life, wants to stay in a detention cell of his choice.

Apparently, the notorious butcher is afraid to be butchered by the friends and relatives of his victims.

His lawyer, comparing his client to Jesus Christ, said he does not want Palparan to be “crucified by an unjust and unfair trial.” The comparison is not only odious but also blasphemous.

Under our criminal justice system Palparan will not be tortured or summarily executed.

He will have his day in court. He will be given fair trial and due process, human rights which he never gave to his tortured victims whose cries of pain and suffering will forever haunt him to the end of his days.--Democrito C. Barcenas

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 26, 2014.

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