HRW urges follow-up on other alleged rights violators

By Julius D. Mariveles

THE US-based Human Rights Watch urged President Benigno S. Aquino III to follow-up on the “extraordinary” arrest of retired Army major general and former Bantay partylist Rep. Jovito Palparan by arresting other high-profile alleged rights abusers.

The arrest of Palparan “marks a rare challenge to the country’s rampant impunity, which the government of (Aquino) has failed to adequately address,” HRW Philippines researcher Carlos Conde said in a dispatch.

Palparan, whom HRW called as a “symbol of impunity,” had evaded arrest over the past three years and had been “thumbing his nose at the authorities with the alleged help of former military colleagues.”

CHECKMATE: General Jovito Palparan

CHECKMATE: General Jovito Palparan

HRW said Palparan has been “notorious” for his alleged role in the abduction, torture, and enforced disappearance of farmers’ rights activists Sherlyn Cadapan and in 2006. There is also evidence linking his unit to the torture of Raymond Manalo, who later testified that he witnessed soldiers under Palparan’s command torture Cadapan and Empeño, Conde added.

During his stint as a brigade commander in Oriental Mindoro province, he was also implicated in the abduction, torture, and murder of at least 29 leftist activists beginning in 2001, making him a “visible symbol of military brutality during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Arroyo also praised Palparan during her State of the Nation Address in 2006 for his role in implementing the “new strategy” of the government’s counter-insurgency campaign that had resulted in widespread rights abuses.

While Palparan’s arrest gives Aquino the opportunity to make “real progress on his long unfulfilled promise to end rights abuses in the Philippines,” he should also follow-up on it by bringing to justice other high-profile rights abusers like former Mayor Rey Uy, the alleged mastermind of the Tagum City “death squad

The HRW also called on Aquino to jumpstart the “moribund” juidicial superbody that he ordered created in 2012 to speed up the investigation and prosecution of extrajudicial killings and to ensure that Palparan goes to trial “without interference from powerful elements in the military who might seek to protect him.”

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