DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The extrajudicial killings in Mindanao prove that hundreds of Jovito Palparans exist in the military, contrary to the claims of a high military official that the so-called “berdugo (butcher)” was the last of his kind, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said.
Palparan, a retired military officer, is accused of masterminding the extrajudicial killings of activists in the places where he was assigned. He went into hiding early this year after a court ordered his arrest in connection with the abduction in 2006 and subsequent disappearance of two University of the Philippines students.
Colmenares and several members of the House committee on justice, chaired by Rep. Rene Relampagos of Bohol, are in the city for the two-day hearing on extrajudicial killings until Friday.
Colmenares said the committee will hear the accounts of more than 30 witnesses.
“Listening to their stories alone will expose as a lie the Army’s claim that Palparan is the last of his kind in the Philippine Army,” Colmenares said. “The rising incidence of human rights violations in Mindanao alone will prove there are still hundreds of Palparans roaming around.”
As of September this year, the human rights group Karapatan placed at 114 the number of activists killed during the administration of President Aquino, 26 of them in Mindanao.
Earlier, Army chief Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista said the Armed Forces of the Philippines has been “seriously” addressing allegations of human rights violations against the military by prosecuting erring officers.
“Is there someone like him (Palparan) in the Army? Not any more. Even you can answer that,” Bautista replied when asked at a recent meeting with Inquirer editors and reporters about the existence of other military officers like Palparan.
But Colmenares said the accounts of witnesses were enough for the public to “see there are still so many Palparans roaming around.”
Colmenares and Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano said that the government’s failure to arrest Palparan despite an outstanding warrant for his arrest showed the reigning climate of impunity in the country.
“In contrast, 350 political prisoners continue to languish in jail with trumped up charges; some of them were even arrested and imprisoned without warrant,” Colmenares said.
He said three evidence continues to show the pattern in the extrajudicial killings of activists, namely: the vilification, which is usually made in public, linking the activists to the armed Communist movement; then, the actual killing committed in broad daylight as if the perpetrators are not afraid to cover their tracks; and the complete lack of interest on the part of government to prosecute the perpetrators.
He said that in Mindanao, the killings are on the rise in areas where opposition to mining is at its height.
Colmenares said these included the Oct. 18 deaths of the wife and sons of B’laan anti-mining leader Dagil Capion in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur; the October 17, 2011 killing of Italian priest Fausto Tentorio in Arakan, North Cotabato; the killing of Jimmy Liguyon, vice chair of the indigenous peoples’ group Kasilu Lumad in Bukidnon, among others.