‘Palparans’ on way up
AKIN TO previous president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s acclamation of “The Butcher” Jovito Palparan while he was in active military service as a general, during her State of the Nation Address in 2006, President Aquino’s appointment of Lt. Gen. Hernando Iriberri as chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Maj. Gen. Eduardo Año as Army chief, and last June’s promotion of Southern Luzon Command chief Ricardo Visaya to three-star general are blatant affirmation of the regime’s policy of war against the discontented Filipino people. These three are the present-day Palparans.
Año was exonerated from the charges for the disappearance of Jonas Burgos. From 2014 to the present, with Año as commander of the 10th Infantry Division in Mindanao, Karapatan documented several Palparan-style human rights abuses, which include extrajudicial killings, disappearances, illegal arrests, torture, hamleting and forcible evacuation of civilians.
Similarly, Visaya’s assumption as 4th Infantry Division commander in Mindanao was allegedly followed by the same pattern of human rights violations. Visaya was reportedly involved in the 2004 bloody massacre of 12 farm workers in Hacienda Luisita; the abduction and torture of farmers Manuel Merino, Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo, and UP students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño; and the “urban militarization” of communities in the National Capital Region from 2006 to 2007, immediately before the national elections.
With Iriberri as Army chief, the Philippine Army was often accused of perpetrating rights abuses and violations of the international humanitarian law across the country, especially in Mindanao. Also, while he was chief of the 503rd Infantry Battalion
assigned in Abra, many communities were bombed. In one of the bombings, two girls were almost hit in the villages of Umnap, Buanao, and Lat-ey in Malibcong town in 2013.
As Army chief, he even praised his men who “won” battles against members of the New People’s Army despite alleged violations of international humanitarian law and human rights. Such was the case of the firefight in Lacub, Abra, in September 2014, where civilians were killed and the eight NPA casualties bore torture marks; Iriberri awarded the soldiers with medals of valor.
Under the Aquino administration, Karapatan has documented 262 extrajudicial killings, 293 frustrated killings and more than 60,000 persons displaced and dislocated due to military combat operations in the countryside (data as of June 30, 2015). Karapatan attributes this to the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, commanded by the three generals who are its “rabid implementers.”
With them at the helm of the Philippine military, especially during President Aquino’s last year in office, his regime will leave a bloody legacy—using violent, Palparan-like solutions against civilians tagged as “enemies of the State.” With this, and the President’s hacendero arrogance, the Aquino administration will go down in history as one of the most hated regimes in the country.
—CRISTINA PALABAY, secretary general, Karapatan, [email protected]
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