07 October 2023
We migrant Filipinos who are deeply concerned with the human rights situation in the Philippines vehemently condemn the acquittal of retired major general Jovito Palparan and five military auxiliary forces by the Malolos Regional Trial Court over the abduction, grave detention, and torture of farmers and brothers Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo in 2006.
This decision is an injustice and is deeply revolting. Raymond’s testimony has been considered credible by the Ombudsman in 2015 and led to the conviction of Palparan in 2018 over the abduction of University of the Philippines students and activists Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan. Raymond and Reynaldo suffered so much during their 18 months of captivity in the hands of military units under Palparan and they deserve justice. Palparan is now widely considered to be responsible for many cases of murder, torture and disappearance and he has not been held accountable for most of his crimes.
We are alarmed and we are calling for vigilance from migrants and all Filipinos. This decision may mean the reversal of court decisions against Palparan. It signals impunity, will encourage human rights violators to carry on, and does not bode well for the human rights situation in the country.
This decision highlights the bad human rights record of President Bongbong Marcos Jr — whose father is a dictator and whose current rule is witness to numerous rights violations. He is also a close ally of Rodrigo Duterte, whose war on drugs and other wars has caused the death of thousands of poor, unarmed and innocent Filipinos. Most of all, Marcos Jr is also a close ally of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the boss and protector of Palparan, who has praised her “hero” on many occasions and who presided over the large-scale return to the country of the extra-judicial killings of activists during her nine-year term.
All Filipinos who love democracy and human rights should raise their voices in condemning the Malolos RTC decision on Palparan. We should all be vigilant as this decision, happening under the rule of Marcos Jr and his gang of allies, is a portent of things to come to our country and our people. ###