Friday, February 3, 2012

Rights group: Army coddling Palparan

Rights group: Army coddling Palparan
By Inquirer Central Luzon, Leila B. Salaverria, Tonette Orejas
February 2, 2012

The fugitive Jovito Palparan may be under the protection of Armed Forces personnel and business owners, and President Benigno Aquino III should order the military to help arrest him, an international human rights group said Wednesday.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement there were apprehensions as well that the military could be interfering in the civilian judicial process, as indicated by the transfer to military custody of two of the coaccused of the retired major general tagged by activists as “Berdugo” (Butcher).

“President Aquino should get the message to the military that the years of protecting Palparan for grievous abuses are over,” HRW deputy Asia director Elaine Pearson said in the statement.

“Officers and soldiers alike should be on notice that if they block civilian authorities in arresting Palparan, they too will face legal consequences,” Pearson said.

Palparan is charged with kidnapping and serious illegal detention for the disappearance of University of the Philippines students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño in 2006.

Prosecuting him will show that the Aquino administration is taking the Philippines in a new direction, according to Pearson.

“Palparan has become a symbol of the widespread lack of accountability for atrocities in the Philippines today,” she said.

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