‘Terror in Mindoro’: Palparan’s victims in Southern Tagalog cry for justice

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The arrest of Palparan enlightens human rights groups but justice on human rights violations still questionable, two UP students still missing. Photo courtesy of John Consulta/NBI/HO
The arrest of Palparan enlightens human rights groups but justice on human rights violations still questionable, two UP students still missing. Photo courtesy of John Consulta/NBI/HO

MANILA, 15Aug2014 — Before retired General Jovito Palparan was deployed in Central Luzon, where he and his men abducted and tortured UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, he first sowed terror in Southern Tagalog, particularly in Mindoro Oriental. This is where he was first called “The Butcher.”

“We join the families of victims of Palparan in Southern Tagalog in seeking justice. Palparan should face dozens of cases not only for the disappearance of Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, but also from the extrajudicial killings in Mindoro and other parts of Southern Tagalog when he was commanding officer of the 204th Brigade of the Philippine Army,” Hustisya secretary general Cristina Guevarra said.

Palparan, then colonel and later on promoted to brigadier general, led the Task Force Banahaw which was deployed in Laguna and later to Oriental Mindoro.

In Oriental Mindoro, there were 39 victims of extrajudicial killings. Some of the victims include couple Expedito and Manuela Albarillo, the Apolinar family (Ruben, Rodriga and Niña), Edilberto “Choy” Napoles, Eden Marcellana and Eddie Gumanoy. These cases were brought before the attention of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Prof. Philip Alston. On October 30, 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Committee concluded that the Philippine government violated the rights of Marcellana and Gumanoy. The UN body also recommended the filing of charges against Palparan.

In April 2003, Marcellana and Gumanoy led an 11-person fact finding mission to look into a report of a human rights violation case in Gloria town in Mindoro, Occidental. After the mission they were waylaid by armed men, who were alleged as members of Palparan’s death squad in the island, along the road who took Gumanoy and Marcellana and three others on April 21. The next day, the bodies of Gumanoy and Marcellana were found in a ditch in Bansud, Mindoro Oriental.
At the time of their deaths, Marcellana was secretary general of Karapatan-Southern Tagalog Region while Gumanoy was chairperson of Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK), a regional peasant alliance.

The family of Eden Marcellana today led the protesters in front of the NBI and vowed to pursue the cases against Palparan. Orly Marcellana, husband of Eden, filed thrice at the Department of Justice. All three complaints were dismissed by the DOJ for lack of evidence against Palparan and his men.

On Friday, victims and kin of victims of Palparan will gather at Balay Kalinaw, University of Philippines-Diliman for a press conference.

“We are calling on all victims to come forward. More cases should be brought against Palparan for the heinous crimes he has committed,” Guevarra said.

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