Farmers join manhunt for Palparan
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—A group of farmers in Central Luzon has mobilized its members in the region’s seven provinces to help in the manhunt for retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, who is wanted for the kidnapping of two University of the Philippines students in 2006.
Joseph Canlas, chair of the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL), said the participation of farmers in the search for Palparan hoped to help give justice to UP students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, who have remained missing since their disappearance five years ago.
Last December, Palparan and three other soldiers were finally charged with kidnapping by a Bulacan court.
Palparan went into hiding a day after Bureau of Immigration personnel at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in the Clark Freeport stopped him from leaving for Singapore on Dec. 19.
His two coaccused, Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado and S/Sgt. Edgardo Osorio, are now detained at Fort Bonifacio. The fourth accused, M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario, has yet to be arrested.
Asked if AMGL or the farmers were after the reward, which the government has increased to P1 million, Canlas laughed and said: “Kung ibibigay (If the reward would be given).”
Canlas said AMGL has about 50,000 members in Central Luzon.
“What is more important is for authorities to get Palparan so he could stand trial for the kidnapping of the two UP students and other victims of atrocities in Central Luzon,” he said.
Palparan retired on Sept. 11, 2006, as commander of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division based in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija. He had been blamed for the deaths, abduction and torture of political activists in areas where he was assigned as military commander such as Central Luzon, Mindoro and the Visayas.
Canlas said provincial, town and barangay chapters of AMGL in Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales, through their leaders, have been asked to help in the manhunt.
AMGL, he said, has coordinated the search with leaders of the Central Luzon Aeta Association, Timpuyog Kaigorotan-Nueva Ecija, Samahan ng mga Katutubo sa Sierra Madre (SKSM-Aurora) and Pamalakaya-Bulacan, fishing communities in Pangasinan and Zambales, and chapters of Anakpawis and Bayan Muna.
Canlas said any information that would lead to the arrest of Palparan would be relayed to local leaders who, in turn, would report this to the police.
Flushing out Palparan
Private prosecutors said on Friday that the government’s doubling of the bounty on Palparan would help flush him out of his hiding place and make it difficult for him to find coddlers.
In a statement, the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) said that while the increase of the bounty from P500,000 to P1 million would encourage the public to join in the hunt for Palparan, the government should further intensify its efforts to capture the fugitive retired general.
“We support it (increase of the bounty). In fact, we thought the original bounty may not have been commensurate an incentive to others given the seriousness of the charges, the import of the case to pursue accountability for human rights violations, his network of protection and connections, his unmatched notoriety for lack of remorse, and his evident dogged incorrigibility to evade facing the music,” NUPL secretary-general Edre Olalia said in a statement.
“We challenge the government to step up even more the manhunt and leave no stone unturned to hale him before the bar of justice. He cannot possibly hide and run ’til kingdom come,” he added. With a report from Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Inquirer Central Luzon, and Jerome Aning in Manila
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