April 22, 2009
Reference: Peter Arvin Jabido, NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
PALPARAN SHOULD BE IN JAIL, NOT THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT– NYCHRP
Appointment of “The Butcher” to Philippine Congress Indicates Lack of Regard for Human Rights
NEW YORK– A local Philippine human rights advocacy group is outraged over the appointment of retired Philippine military officer Jovito Palparan to the Philippine House of Representatives this week, claiming the move “will surely result in more blood of Filipino civilians in the Philippine government’s hands.”
Palparan’s appointment under the Bantay Party-list group comes after a Philippine Supreme Court decision this week to expand the number of party-list representatives in the House of Representatives to 32.
“The only house Jovito Palparan deserves to be is a jailhouse,” states Lolan Sevilla of the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines or NYCHRP.
Previously known as “the Butcher of Mindoro”, the former Philippine military general is credited for designing a counter-insurgency strategy to annihilate the Communist Party of the Philippines and it’s armed wing, the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), by targeting unarmed, civilian activist groups it suspects to be ‘fronts’ of the CPP-NPA. Originally tested in the province of Oriental Mindoro, where Palparan served as commanding officer of the 204th Infantry Battalion, the counter-insurgency strategy was eventually adopted nationwide, resulting in the deaths over 1000 unarmed civilian activists and an additional 200 abductions since 2001.
Palparan was heavily implicated in the 2003 double-murder of human rights worker Eden Marcellana of KARAPATAN and peasant leader Eddie Gumanoy of KASAMA-TK, which put him under investigation by the Philippine Justice Department and Philippine Congress. Despite these complaints of military abuses, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo promoted Palparan to brigadier general.
Before retiring in 2006, Palparan led the Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Division in Central Luzon, where he was accused of ordering his men to hit civilians who would fail to present community tax certificates to prove that they were not NPA members, as part of his infamous psychological warfare tactics. Palparan was also again heavily implicated in the abduction of two female college students from the University of the Philippines (UP)– Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno– after the two were accused by the military of being members of the NPA. Reports surfaced years later by a witness that the students were indeed being held captive and being heavily tortured and sexually molested by their military captors.
Even scathing accusations against Palparan hurled by UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings Philip Alston in 2007 did not faze Palparan’s ardent defense of his military record, who retorted against Alston’s report on the state of politically-motivated killings in the country as “lacking depth.”
With no proven effect on debilitating the CPP-NPA’s forces, the counter-insurgency strategy drew scrutiny from human rights groups, the United Nations, and even the US legislators in 2007.
“It is unconscionable,” Sevilla continued. “Palparan’s appointment to the Philippine Congress indicates that Arroyo responds to known human rights violators by giving them more power rather than criminalizing them, not to mention how this proves how the Arroyo administration shamefully chooses to remain complicit when it comes to human rights violations in general. We implore all international human rights bodies to condemn this appointment and demand the Philippine government revoke Palparan’s seat in the Philippine House of Representatives at once.”
Arroyo’s Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita has already expressed excitement over Palparan contributing to “the passage of key legislation that could help resolve the insurgency problem as well as other security issues in the country.” ###