By Rod P. Kapunan
Manila Standard Today
Jovito Palparan, Jr., a.k.a. “The Butcher”, would not have reached the rank of major general in the Armed Forces of the Philippines and shame its reputation had he not found a patron who would applaud his strings of criminal acts against those he arbitrarily perceived as “enemies of the State.” The butcher managed to build his notorious reputation and cash in on it to win the trust of an equally notorious political hijacker and political swindler who by twist of fate is now detained, and made to answer for the crimes that allowed her to style herself as President of this Godforsaken republic.
Such is the observation for if the previous government was kin in observing the law, Palparan could have been weeded out that early as a bad egg and charged before the military courts for his crimes. In wanting to earn his laurels, he opted to play the dirty game, confident he would be rewarded for his deranged efforts to make good the rubbish slogan “Ang matatag na republika.” Yes, he is only made to answer for the disappearance of the three persons, but it cannot be discounted he had a hand in all those operations that caused the disappearance and killings of more 800 persons that all took place during the reign of the political usurper, and that includes Jonas Burgos, the son of the former Malaya publisher, Joe Burgos.
To quote the now-detained Mrs. Arroyo in her 2006 State of the Nation Address, “…we will end the long oppression of barangays by rebel terrorists who kill without qualms, even their own. Sa mga lalawigan sakop ng 7th Division nakikibaka sa kalaban si Jovito Palparan. Hindi siya aatras hanggang makawala sa gabi ng kilabot ang mga pamayanan at maka-ahon sa bukang liwayway ng hustisya at kalayaan.” Indeed, it was weird because no sane political leader would publicly commend a creature like Palparan, unless the leader himself has the criminal instinct to do it. He could not have earned his notorious reputation, and seemingly get away with it had he, in the words of Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda, not been “lavishly coddled by the previous administration.”
For that matter, wherever Palparan and his men are assigned they move in like pestilence. In Samar, Mindoro, and Central Luzon their arrival could spell out the death of those they arbitrarily tagged as “enemies of the State.” He took on his criminal activities as his way to fame and glory, and was consistently rewarded instead of being court martialed. Palparan was promoted twice, from colonel to brigadier general in 2003, a promotion seldom achieved by decent but dedicated soldiers who would rather stick to the rules of civilized warfare than earn their medals stained with the blood of suspects and innocent civilians. The following year, he was again promoted to major general after serving as commander of the Philippine contingent to Iraq in 2004, and it came barely two months after his previous promotion.
True to his color as a wayward soldier, he tells the investigating panel of the Department of Justice, “What will you admit if you have done nothing wrong?” As one who has been used to interrogating people by the methodological way of torture, he failed to surmise that his general denial amounted to an admission, which contradicts to what he stated in his counter affidavit that, “as the commanding general of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division, the other military officers accused with him were not under his control and supervision. That said abduction of the students was a ‘police matter’”.
Palparan has become arrogant to trivialize the order of the court despite the writ of amparo issued by the Supreme Court for the Court of Appeals to proceed in hearing the case. Indeed, he and his co-accused have all their reasons to bask much that the questionable Arroyo government was still in power to afford them to brush aside the search warrant insisting that it amounted to a “shotgun search warrant.” Such defense would not suffice for the fact that two brothers-witnesses have surfaced with Raymond Manalo testifying he first saw the two missing UP students, Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, at Camp Tecson, Bulacan, in September 2006. Raymond said he and his brother Reynaldo together with Cadapan, Empeneo and Merino were all tortured. One could imagine how brutal it was to see Palparan’s soldiers setting Merino on fire. He said the last time he saw the students was in June 2007 in Limay, Bataan, where they were taken.
What Palparan committed were atrocities not war by resorting to such reprehensible means of abducting suspects, and summarily liquidating them in isolated places to be ultimately classified as desaparecidos. Such barbaric conduct is self-defeating to the counterinsurgency efforts of winning the hearts and minds of the people. Human rights violations can never be made a substitute to victory reminiscent of the unbridled brutality waged by the generals headed by Jorge Videla of Argentina where more than 20,000 civilians disappeared under that infamous Operation Condor ordered by the US Central Intelligence Agency.
Palparan’s arrogance has gotten into his head that right after retiring from the service his formed his own party-list, the Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy. According to some sources, the leading personalities behind ANAD, a word in waray which means domesticated, is made up of the same henchmen that joined him in his criminal activities. Being one who has become an egotistical maniac, that in the words of British writer Christopher Hitchens sick with solipsism or of seeing himself as the only reality, the doggone soldier is now advocating nationalism without thinking that the barbaric war he has been waging against his own people is a proxy war to protect the interest of a criminal state that is as guilty of savagery in attacking many countries in our time.
He could not even comprehend that democracy can never exist alongside violence. While the measurement of democracy is based on what constitutes the majority, the decision of that majority is nonetheless always guided by the free will of the individual on which to side. Soldiers hooting for democracy can never defend that political principle by the use of violence for then what takes place is the “barrel of the gun” something stupid Palparan failed to analyze. If Mrs. Arroyo has the nerve to classify the rebels as terrorists, her patronage of Palparan doubly reduced her government to that of a terrorist organization made worse because it uses the very instrumentalities of the State she grabbed to intimidate the people.