Militant groups to stage rally vs Palparan

Dino Balabo - The Philippine Star

MALOLOS CITY, Philippines – Militant groups are set to hold a protest rally here on Monday to denounce retired Army general Jovito Palparan.

The groups Karapatan, Desaparecidos, Hustisya and Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) are planning to hold a rally in front of the courthouse for the scheduled arraignment of Palparan.

Security has been tightened with the city police force being beefed up by police troops from the Central Luzon Regional Police office as ordered by regional police director Chief Superintendent Raul Petrasanta during an inspection on Friday.

Cristina Guevarra, spokesperson of Hustisya, said other militant organizations from Metro Manila and Central Luzon are expected to join them on Monday.

Guevarra said they would demand from the court to have Palparan committed to the Bulacan Provincial Jail.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, however, urged the transfer of Palparan to a military facility, considering he served the country as a soldier.

He stressed Palparan should be presumed innocent until proven guilty of the charges raised against him.

Trillanes visited Palparan yesterday at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) main office in Manila.

The former Navy officer said Palparan should be placed in a military facility considering he was an active member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines when the allegations against him came to play.

“We have to show that we do not neglect the soldiers who served our nation. Remember that he is innocent until proven guilty,” Trillanes said in Filipino.

Guevarra, on the other hand, said other militant groups will also conduct a rally in front of the NBI main office in Manila to pressure them to bring Palparan to the Bulacan court for his arraignment.

Guevarra said the failure to bring Palparan to the court and commitment to the provincial jail would mean special treatment is being given to the former Army general.

“We are ready to condemn, but we will be waiting for their actions on Monday,” Guevarra said.

For their part, members of militant groups in Bulacan who survived Palparan’s campaign in the province will come out and join the rally.

One of them said many of them went into hiding at the height of Palparan’s anti-communist campaign in 2005 and 2006 when the former general was then the regional Army commander.

Palparan is charged with two counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention in connection with the alleged abduction of UP students Karen Empeño and Sherilyn Cadapan in Hagonoy, Bulacan on June 26, 2006.

After the court issued the arrest warrant in 2011, Palparan went into hiding for over two years until the NBI and military intelligence operatives caught him early Tuesday hiding in a dilapidated house in Manila.

Many activists in Central Luzon went into hiding as many of their comrades were allegedly either abducted or killed during Palparan’s tenure as Army commander in the region.

Palparan is idolized by many soldiers for his vigorous campaign against insurgency but is vilified by activists for his supposed involvement in human rights violations.

He was so successful in his anti-insurgency campaign that leftist groups and militants branded him as “The Butcher.”

Militant groups want Palparan to face charges of human rights violations, including the abduction and disappearance of the two UP students.

The court had the NBI to present Palparan and commit him to the provincial jail.

Palparan, through his counsel, however, filed a motion before the court on Thursday asking to remain under NBI custody for security reasons.

The court ordered the NBI and the authorities to comment on the motion to stay, and is set to decide on the motion on Monday. – With Marvin Sy                        

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