Palparan conviction sends strong signal to human rights abusers – CHR

Jodesz Gavilan
Palparan conviction sends strong signal to human rights abusers – CHR
(UPDATED) It's a triumph of strong will, says Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Chito Gascon


MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Commission on Human Rights on Monday, September 17, calls the conviction of retired army major general Jovito Palparan an “important judgment” as it proves the long arm of the law.

“This is an important judgment as it sends a strong signal that victims of human rights violations are still able to secure justice so long as there is a strong will on the part of the victims, their lawyers, and the human rights defenders who support them to hold perpetrators to account,” CHR Chairperson Chito Gascon said.  

Palparan on Monday was found guilty of kidnapping and illegal detention by the Malolos Regional Trial Court Branch 15 for the disappearance of University of the Philippines students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan a dozen years ago, in 2006. (READ: People of the Philippines vs Jovito Palparan)

The conviction comes 4 years since he was arrested. Prior to that arrest, he went into hiding in response to Malolos RTC’s arrest order. (TIMELINE: The search for Jovito Palparan)

Aside from Palparan, also convicted were Lieutenant Colonel Felipe Anotado and S/Sgt Edgardo Osorio.

Gascon pointed out that the verdict is only “one case of a positive outcome compared to far too many other cases of human rights violations from years back that remain unresolved.” 

“The law enforcement and justice institutions should do more to ensure that impunity is addressed in this country,” he said.

On Tuesday, September 18, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said the guilty verdict on Palparan should serve as a reminder to law enforcers who break the rules “their time will come as well.”

“We trust that judicial processes worked. And ganun na po ‘yun, let it be a lesson sa mga nang-aabuso ngayon ng kapangyarihan. Darating yung panahon, ‘yung mga nag-utos sa kanila wala na sa pwesto at hindi na sila kaya proteksyunan,” Trillanes said.

(We trust that judicial processes worked. And that’s just how it is, let it be a lesson to those who currently abuse their power. Time will come, those who gave them orders will no longer be in power and they can’t be protected anymore.)

Capadan and Empeno are among the 1,996 documented cases of enforced disappearance in the Philippines. At least 1,165 remain missing from this list, while 244 were found dead. (READ: What you need to know about enforced disappearances in the Philippines

Human rights groups tag the decorated general as berdugo, or “The Butcher,” for alleged human rights abuses he committed at the height of intense counter-insurgency operations under the Arroyo administration. –

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Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.