Press Release / 17 September 2018
Workers welcome Palparan conviction, warn that Arroyo is next
National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) welcomes the court decision convicting retired Army Major General Jovito Palparan for the kidnapping and serious illegal detention of UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, who were abducted in Hagonoy, Bulacan in 2006.
“This ruling, while long overdue, is welcome news for all Filipino activists, who were the primary victims of the butcher Palparan as he left a bloody trail across Central Luzon, Eastern Visayas, and Mindoro,” said Lito Ustarez, KMU vice chairperson for external and political affairs.
Palparan and his two accused, Lieutenant Colonel Felipe Anotado and Staff Sergeant Edgardo Osorio, were sentenced to reclusion perpetua. Ustarez called the conviction “a victory for which we salute the Empeño and Cadapan families, and all who struggle for human rights and justice.”
Ustarez emphasized, “No pardon should be given to Palparan. He should be locked up for life. We continue to seek justice for all his victims, and that means that Palparan’s boss — former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo — should also be held accountable.”
Reclusion perpetua convicts an offender in prison for 20 to 40 years, but he can become eligible for pardon after 30 years.
Palparan was notorious for perpetrating and openly justifying the human rights violations (HRVs) committed by the military during the Arroyo regime. Despite his bloody track record, Arroyo singled out Palparan for praise in her 2006 state of the nation address (SONA).
Palparan ran and lost in the 2016 senatorial race, while Arroyo is currently House Speaker, with the backing of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Palparan and his master, Arroyo, are the enemy of all who fight to uphold the rights of peasants, workers, and other marginalized Filipinos,” Ustarez said.
“It was Arroyo who gave Palparan the authority to kill, abduct, and torture those who dared to stand against her illegitimate, anti-people, and tyrannical regime,” Ustarez added. “The conviction of Palparan should be a message to Arroyo that we will never forget her crimes against the Filipino people.”
The third military man accused is Rizal Hilario, who remains at large. “Apart from Arroyo, Hilario must join Palparan in prison. He is also a perpetrator of HRVs in peasant and farm workers’ communities in Hacienda Luisita,” Ustarez said.
The hearing of the cases against Gen. Palparan came to a close after almost five years.
“The families of Cadapan and Empeño faced so many hardships standing up against the butcher Palparan. Many other victims of HRVs are now drawing inspiration from them after the courage they showed since their daughters disappeared over a decade ago,” Ustarez said. KMU vowed to continue fighting for justice for Cadapan, Empeño, and other victims of state-perpetrated HRVs.
*Reference: Lito Ustarez, KMU Vice-Chairperson for Political and External Affairs — 09086491992