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MANILA, Philippines – Times have indeed changed for retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan.
Remember how former President Gloria Arroyo heaped praises on him in her 2006 State of the Nation Address (SONA) amid allegations of military abuse? In promising to end the communist insurgency, Mrs. Arroyo then said, “And we will end the long oppression of barangays by rebel terrorists who kill without qualms, even their own. Sa mga lalawigang sakop ng 7th Division, nakikibaka sa kalaban si Jovito Palparan. Hindi siya aatras hanggang makawala sa gabi ng kilabot ang mga pamayanan at maka-ahon sa bukang-liwayway ng hustisya at kalayaan.”
Mrs Arroyo’s statement was made amid reports of human rights abuses by the military in the guise of counter-insurgency. Under pressure from the international community, she eventually created the Melo Commission to investigate the reports. The commission in 2007 recommended the investigation of Palparan; Mrs Arroyo never acted on that recommendation.
For deploying his troops in populated communities and allegedly abducting civilians, Palparan earned the moniker “The Butcher” during the Arroyo years. Today, the butcher is a fugitive. He’s the subject of a government manhunt following kidnapping charges filed against him and three others over the disappearance of two UP students in 2006.
On Dec. 15, 2011, the Department of Justice announced it has found probable cause to indict Palparan and three other soldiers for the alleged military abduction of two UP students. Three days later, or on Monday, Dec. 19, 2011, Palparan tried to leave for Singapore but was blocked by immigration authorities.
He cried foul, saying the government had no right to bar him from traveling abroad since the hold departure order against him already expired in November 2011.
On Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011, a Bulacan court issued a warrant of arrest against him. A hold departure order followed. Two of his co-accused have already surrendered to authorities but the general remains at large. Sources said he has sent surrender feelers to the government but stressed he wanted to surrender to only one government official.
Rappler’s Carmela Fonbuena was able to interview Palparan on the phone on Dec. 19 and 20. As of the afternoon of Dec. 20, however, we already lost contact with him.
Below are excerpts from the phone interviews, during which he admitted that “hiding” was an option: “Ang option na ganyan, minsan maiisip mo yan. Sarili mo yan. Ilalagay mo ba sarili mo sa alanganin? Ang daming threat sa akin.” (That’s an option. It’s personal. Would I expose myself to trouble given the threats against me?)
What happened the day he was stopped at the Diosdado Macapagal Airport in Clark, Pampanga
They stopped me. I tried to leave for Singapore because I know that there is no hindrance. I will be back on the 25th.
I don’t have a hold departure order. It’s been lifted a long ago. It’s supposed to be my right: to travel. There’s no case against me, except for a newspaper report. Who is supposed to question where will I go? What is their right to do that?
What he was going to do in Singapore
For what? For various purposes. First, I have meetings. I also have business transactions.
I planned to spend Christmas eve there with my friends. I also want to have a break. They kept me here for so long.
How he was treated
In fairness, they (Bureau of Immigration) treated me well. They are apologetic. It looks like I was dragged into the political war. So I was treated differently.
They apologized because they didn’t have a basis. They only have a paper from the Department of Justice.
There is injustice but it is okay. What will I do? Wala naman ako magagawa divan. They are government. Let them enjoy their power. Ganoon talaga. Ang mga nakaupo diyan, they want to experience the glory of commanding. Let them.
“Bahala sila if they find me [guilty]–I really don’t think so with the evidence presented. I believe hindi kami makakasuhan. Naisip ko na yung pronouncements nya sa TV ay pinagbibigyan lang nila kaliwete. Akala ko noon newspaper lang. Hindi ako nagwo-worry. (It’s up to them. I didn’t think they could charge me in court. When I heard their [government] pronouncements on TV I thought they were simply trying to please the Left. I didn’t worry.]
Is he going to question the government move?
I don’t know. I will talk to my lawyer if there is a benefit for the greater majority. Kung sa akin lang, sanay na akong masaktan. Ilang beses na akong nasaktan, physically. Hindi naman masyadong personal sa akin ang ganyang mga bagay. (I’m used to getting hurt. I’ve been hurt many times. It’s not personal). – Rappler.com