Philippines: Arrest Ex-General Accused of ‘Disappearances’ Palparan’s Prosecution Key to Ending Impunity
(New York) – Philippine President Benigno Aquino III should order the armed forces to cooperate with civilian authorities in arresting retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan and others charged with the enforced disappearance of two activists in 2006, Human Rights Watch said today. Since the Justice Department filed charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention in December 2011, Palparan and one co-accused, Sgt. Rizal Hilario, have evaded capture, while the other two have been transferred to military custody.
“President Aquino should get the message to the military that the years of protecting Palparan for grievous abuses are over,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Officers and soldiers alike should be on notice that if they block civilian authorities in arresting Palparan, they too will face legal consequences.”
Human Rights Watch said that President Aquino should make it clear that anyone – inside and outside the military – who obstructs the arrests will be held accountable for protecting Palparan, who is also accused of other abuses while he was an army division commander.
Immediately after the Justice Department brought charges, the police and the National Bureau of Investigations formed “tracker teams” to arrest Palparan and Hilario and transfer them to civilian custody.
Despite a one-million peso (US$23,000) reward for Palparan’s capture, civilian officials have told Human Rights Watch that they believe some military personnel and business owners, who benefitted from Palparan’s campaign against the communist New People’s Army, are protecting the retired general.
A group of active and retired military officials have publicly defended Palparan, denouncing what it called his “trial by publicity.” The group, in a statement to the media dated December 28, also warned of “demoralization in the soldiers’ ranks,” pointing out that Palparan and the others are accused of abuses allegedly committed while “leading operations against the communist insurgents in Central Luzon.”