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Philippines: Manhunt for ‘Human Rights Violator’ Goes Online

The efforts to catch Major General Jovito Palparan have gone online after an arrest warrant was finally issued against the alleged human rights violator in the Philippines. Human rights victims, witnesses, families, and their supporters have called for a public manhunt of Palparan after his failed attempt to escape the country and subsequent hiding from the authorities.

Notorious as the “The Butcher,” Palparan has been charged with the kidnapping and serious illegal detention of University of the Philippines student activists Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno.

Palparan is also infamous for the rise of cases of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and other human rights abuses in every province where he was assigned under the regime of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Human rights groups have documented at least 1,206 extrajudicial killings, 206 enforced disappearances, and 2,059 illegal arrests and detention under the past administration.

Netizens have been encouraged to help the mothers of the two missing activists attain justice by posting the “Wanted: Palparan” poster released by the human rights groups Karapatan, Desaparecidos, and Hustisya on blogs, Facebook pages, and other social media. Here is a video that the same groups have uploaded online:

The mothers of Cadapan and Empeno said that the arrest order of Palparan signals a new beginning in the quest to hold human rights violators accountable and ending impunity in the country, which continues to hold sway under the new administration of Noynoy Aquino.

Such impunity is wrought by the brazen commission of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other forms of human rights violations under the Macapagal-Arroyo regime. Such violations continue with impunity to this date under the Aquino administration, which has been remiss in pursuing justice for the victims and has sustained the same kind of counter-insurgency measure which terrorizes and wantonly violates human rights.

Mindanao-based journalist Karlos Manlupig remembers his own encounters with Palparan and the fear the latter roused during the May 2010 elections in Davao, Southern Mindanao.

Student activists, as a joke, refer to Palparan as Tito Palpy and usually use it to scare some kasamas [fellow activists] when they go home late, “Hala ka, naa baya si Tito Palpy diha sa gawas sa gate. Ginahulat ka [Beware, Tito Palpy is just there outside the gate. Waiting for you].”

University of the Philippines Student Regent Krissy Conti notes that the arrest of Palparan would bring peace to the minds of many UP students engaged in social work.

Palparan et al’s arrest and detention in ordinary jails would give us a little peace of mind as we continue to conduct field work, immerse in communities, and serve the people where we can find them – the same way Karen and Sherlyn did. We have no bounty to offer, but to those who can bring in the men who terrorized the countryside have our deepest gratitude.

Ellen Torsedillas meanwhile recalls in her blog how former President Arroyo awarded Palparan despite the controversies surrounding the figure.

In her sixth State-of-the-Nation address on July 24, 2006, Gloria Arroyo, amidst cries of parents of University of the Philippines Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño and relatives of Manuel Merino, a farmer, Gloria Arroyo lavished praises on one of the most feared and hated generals – then Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, commander of the 7th Infantry Division in central Luzon, where many of the extra-judicial killings happened.

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