Palparan vows to fight till the end

Dino Balabo - The Philippine Star

MALOLOS CITY, Philippines – Down, but not out.

Former Army general Jovito Palparan vowed to fight to the end a seemingly insurmountable legal battle.

The first is the legal battle in court and the second is the court of public opinion, he said.

While his lawyer Narzal Mallari helps him in his legal battles, Palparan is counting on the support of the people who benefited from his anti-insurgency campaigns.

“They are still there, but not consciously organized as the communist rebels and their supporters,” he said, referring to fishpond operators on the coastline of Bulacan who for decades suffered from revolutionary taxation by the rebels.

Palparan described his supporters as “silent” but ready to help.

For starters, his lawyer filed a motion to change venue of the kidnapping with serious illegal detention charges he is facing.

Palparan said among the reasons is his concern for his safety.

While he felt secure inside the Bulacan provincial jail, he said the threat against him remains.

As former commander of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division from 2005 to 2006, Palparan said he made enemies among communist insurgents.

“I operated here in the past and I don’t feel safe here,” he said.

Palparan reiterated the threat of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) who had called him a “dead man walking.”

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 National Bureau of Investigation and military intelligence operatives caught him in a dilapidated house in Manila last week.

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.

Propaganda blow

Lawyer Oliver Lozano, for his part, said the capture of Palparan is a major propaganda and tactical victory for communist rebels in the country.

Lozano, an official of the Guardian Brotherhood International – an organization of active, retired and reserve police and military officers, said the communist rebels have attained their objective to demoralize the ranks of the military and police.

“Communist rebels are now rejoicing. They have sent a chilling signal to the police and military that they will suffer the fate of Palparan if they go hard in the counter insurgency operation,” he said.

Lozano said intelligence reports gathered by the group revealed the missing UP students were spotted in suspected training camps of the NPA in Bicol and Mindanao.

Lozano said the military must verify and validate the information to prove the criminal cases against Palparan are baseless.

“The military was winning the propaganda war but with Palparan now in jail, the military and police commanders will have to think twice in carrying out their anti-insurgency campaign,” Lozano said.

He said Palparan, a nominee of the party-list True Marcos Loyalist, was very effective in counter insurgency operations against the NPA, when he was able to neutralize the rebels in Mindoro and some parts of Luzon. – With Perseus Echeminada



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