MANILA, Philippines – Retired generals are hurting over what they say is a "trial by publicity" one of their own, retired Major General Jovito Palparan Jr, who is now detained for the alleged abduction of University of the Philippines (UP) students in 2006.
The 800-member Association of General and Flag Officers (AGFO), led by retired Lieutenant General Edilberto Adan, issued a statement on Friday, August 15, denouncing the "berdugo" (butcher) moniker that activists have given Palparan.
“We sympathize with the families of the victims of this long running insurgency, whether they are civilians or soldiers. But branding Major General Palparan as a ‘berdugo’ and playing it up in the media does not help the quest for justice," read the AGFO statement signed by Adan.
"We should not forget that the real enemies are those who resort to violence and intimidation to achieve their selfish political ends. In many societies, such actions are considered acts of terrorism, and those who commit them, terrorists,” the generals said.
The statement was clearly alluding to the New People's Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines that has been waging awar with the government for 4 decades now.
Palparan has been painted by militants as the face of the military's alleged human rights violations during the Arroyo administration. Allegations of extrajudicial killings and disapperances involving political activist and leftist elements followed him wherever he was assigned, earning him the notorious moniker.
To fellow soldiers, however, Palparan was a "professional soldier" who put his life on the line to protect the Filipino people, the statement added. (WATCH: Fugitive General Palparan arrested in Manila)
“Professional soldiers like Major General Palparan faced hardships and risks, and had put his life on the line like countless Filipino soldiers in the service of the country, starting as a junior officer in the 1970s. His courage and leadership had saved lives and protected communities. His sacrifices should be taken into account,” the group said.
A Bulacan court issued in December 2011 warrants of arrest against Palparan and 2 other soldiers. He fled and was in hiding for almost 3 years until he fell to military operatives on Tuesday, August 12. (READ: Palparan's fall: 'Naisahan 'nyo ako,' he tells soldiers)
AGFO said the media campaign against Palparan is a violation of his right to due process.
“Let him have his day in court and defend himself against his accusers. Our justice system presumes that he is innocent until proven otherwise in a court of law,” AGFO said.
“If he had abused his power and authority or committed any crime against anyone as the militants claim, then allow him to face his accusers, and they should present evidence for evaluation by competent authorities so that justice maybe served. Lest we forget, this is how it works in a democracy,” he added. – Rappler.com