By Pei Hu
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
MANILA, Philippines – International human rights group, Human Rights Watch, said the Philippine government should investigate retried General Jovito Palparan for widespread human rights abuses under his command rather than appoint him to a post on the Dangerous Drug Board.
Philippine Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita told the media that Palparan was being considered for the position on the Dangerous Drug Board. The Dangerous Drug Board is a governmental agency composed of top officials from justice, health, foreign affairs, the National Bureau of Investigation and the National Police. The Dangerous Drug Board meets to formulate policies and strategies on drug prevention and control.
During a news conference Ermita told the press, “If [Palparan] was able to generate good information and intelligence from among the New People Army, I think he can also do the same thing among drug traffickers and drug pushers.” The New People Army of the Communist Part of the Philippines has been involved in a rebellion against the Filipino government since 1969.
In a 2006 the Filipino government established the Melo Commission, a government effort to investigate extrajudicial killings of journalists. Leftist activists and clergy members identified Palparan as the “prime suspect behind the extrajudicial killings” in the report. The Melo Commission concluded that “There is certainly evidence pointing the finger of suspicion at some elements and personalities in the armed forces, in particular General Palparan, as responsible for an undetermined number of killings, by allowing, tolerating, and even encouraging the killings.”
Palparan was the military commander for the Central Luzon under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Since 2001, hundreds of left-wing political parties, human rights activists, journalists, and clergy persons in the Philippines have been killed or have gone missing. After Arroyo announced the “all-out war” against the New People Army, the extrajudicial killings and abductions increased.
Due to recent international pressure, the killings and violence have decreased; however, no soldiers have been convicted for involvement in extrajudicial killing since Arroyo took office in 2001. Palparan denies any allegations from human rights groups but has made several comments that alluded to the unjustified killings. He said that they were “being attributed to me, but I did not kill them. I just inspired [the triggermen]. We are not admitting responsibility here, what I’m saying is that these are necessary incidents.”
Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch said, “Considering the serious abuses committed under his command, Palparan and his legacy would be a liability, not an asset, to any government institution that cares about its reputation for upholding human rights.” Person added, “Appointing Palparan to a senior state post would send a strong message that the government rewards, not punishes, those who encourage the killing of perceived adversaries …Unless the Philippines wants a dirty ‘war on drugs’ riddled with killings, it should not take such a dangerous move.”
For more information, please see:
GMA News – US Envoy Calls for Prosecution of Rights Violators – 27 January 2009
Human Rights Watch –Philippines: Investigate Ex-General for Rights Abuses – 3 February 2009
Inquirer – Rights Group: Probe Palparan for Abuses – 4 February 2009