Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin says fugitive ex-Army Major General Jovito Palparan is destroying the image of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“He should come out if he did not commit any wrongdoing, and face the music,” Gazmin told reporters during the launch of the “Bayanihan” music video at the Army Officers’ Club on Wednesday afternoon.
During the event, a four-minute video uploaded on YouTube was shown dramatizing the so-called “Army Transformation Road Map” (ATR) prepared by the Philippine Army. The video includes a photograph of protesters railing against Palparan.
“The message there is you don’t smear your own organization. You must surface and prove yourself to be innocent if you are innocent. Right now, he is a fugitive. He is destroying the image of the Armed Forces and not only the Army,” Gazmin said.
Asked if he was issuing a challenge to Palparan to surrender, Gazmin said, “Yes.”
“The Army is going toward a transformation. It is transforming into an organization that is very professional,” Gazmin said.
Palparan disappeared earlier this year after the Bulacan Regional Trial Court issued an arrest warrant for him in connection with the kidnapping of University of the Philippines students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan in June 2006.
The tough Army officer, who has been implicated in several alleged extrajudicial killings, has been described by leftist militants as “the butcher.”
In the Arroyo administration, Palparan was called the face of the military’s counterinsurgency program.
Residents say there was peace and quiet in the neighborhood where Palparan used to live but there is now rampant criminality in the area after he went into hiding.
The YouTube video features a young Army soldier and political satirist Mae Paner, aka “Juana Change,” who plays the role of a civilian wary of the military but later realizes the Army’s effort to “transform” itself.
A minute into the video, a photograph of protesters holding a poster of Palparan appears, then an Inquirer headline on the plunder case against retired Major General Carlos Garcia and a picture of Garcia himself.
The photographs are part of a montage of the Army’s alleged sins that make up Paner’s thought bubble in a scene where she is staring at the soldier with anger and fear.
The soldier, reading what’s on Paner’s mind, says to himself: “Unfair ’yan Ma’am. Hindi lahat ganyan. Hindi buong military masama. Sa katunayan marami po sa amin ang tuwid at marangal. (Not all are like that. The entire military is not bad. In truth, many of us are straight and honorable).”
The video, which was launched a few months ago, ends with Paner and the soldier becoming friends.
The “Bayanihan para sa Kapayapaan” music video featuring pop star Sarah Geronimo was also the Army’s way of stepping up its campaign to send the ATR message to the public in addition to calling state enemies to surrender and work for peace.
“So that’s Sarah Geronimo. I only know JLo!” Gazmin said, laughing.