By Francis Wakefield
Human rights group Karapatan yesterday welcomed the decision of a Bulacan court, finding former Army general Jovito Palparan guilty of kidnapping and serious illegal detention in connection with the disappearance of University of the Philippines (UP) students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan.
“This is a step forward for justice, though partial for so long as Karen and Sherlyn remain missing and numerous other violations remain unresolved,” said Karapatan deputy secretary general Roneo Clamor.
The Malolos regional trial court in Bulacan released its decision on Monday, September 17, 2018, for the charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention filed against Palparan.
The former Army major general went into hiding in 2011 after a regional court in Bulacan issued a warrant of arrest against him. He was captured in August 2014.
“This case has dragged on for so long, adding to the pain of the victims’ relatives and to the benefit of Palparan who is detained with his barkadas at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City. It has been 12 years, and though we welcome this decision, justice delayed is still justice denied. We want to see him rot in jail, not in the company of fellow butchers who share the same contempt for human rights,” Clamor added, noting that Palparan should be in a civilian detention facility, not in an army custodial center.
Clamor emphasized that Palparan was responsible for numerous rights violations, not just for the disappearance of Empeño and Cadapan. He also alleged the retired general could also be responsible for a trail of killings in the regions of Eastern Visayas and Southern Tagalog. Former-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has praised Palparan for his murderous record, and is deemed as among the former president’s favorite generals.
According to Karapatan, among Palparan’s alleged victims was Karapatan’s own regional coordinator in Southern Tagalog. Eden Marcellana, along with peasant leader Eddie Gumanoy, were killed while conducting a fact-finding mission in Mindoro. Marcellana and Gumanoy’s bodies were later found in a ditch in Bansud, Mindoro Oriental.
“Palparan is known not just for the killings and disappearances, but the utter cruelty and inhumanity with which these crimes were done. Testimonies of witnesses attest to the beatings, rape, and torture that Karen and Sherlyn were subjected to. He is a psychopath who enjoys inflicting pain on others, and should therefore be in jail, far away from any position that can give him any power to victimize more people,” Clamor further said.