The judicial process to determine the culpability of retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan (known as “Berdugo”) for the disappearance of two student activists began last week. The mothers of the missing students, Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, came face to face with Palparan at the preliminary investigation of the criminal complaints they filed against the general and other military officers in the Department of Justice.
The Empeno-Cadapan case is one of the high-profile human rights cases that have remained unresolved up to this time. There was no hope that there would be some positive developments in the case during the Arroyo administration because Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo did not feel strongly about human rights. As a matter of fact, she singled out Palparan for praise in her State of the Nation Address.
But now there is hope that things will get moving during the administration of President Aquino whose family suffered greatly because of human rights violations during the Marcos administration. But it appears that the President is not aggressive in attending to the human rights issue. Two weeks ago Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said Mr. Aquino failed to deliver on his campaign pledge to end a culture of impunity.
Karapatan said the Aquino administration’s performance on extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses has been “mediocre.” “Specifically, his campaign promises relating to human rights remain unfulfilled,” Karapatan said in its April to June monitor.
During Mr. Aquino’s first year in Malacañang, “no one has been prosecuted among the perpetrators of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrests, illegal detention and military atrocities in the countryside,” Karapatan said.
The relatives of the victims of human rights violations in previous administrations are now doing their part. The least the President can do is give full support to the judicial entities looking into human rights abuses and instill in the minds of the military and the police, especially, that his is an administration that gives the greatest value and importance to justice, human rights and human life.