Melo Commission Report: Presentation of Witnesses/Resource Persons

Feb. 23, 2007

15. AFP Investigation of Gen. Jovito Palparan

It was noted that there was an increase in activist killings in the areas where Gen. Palparan was assigned. Thus, it earned him the moniker Butcher or Berdugo.

Gen. Esperon said that an internal investigation was conducted by the AFP. However, no formal investigation was conducted since no formal complaints were filed against Gen. Palparan. The internal investigations conducted were informal in nature and thus, no records were kept.

Moreover, when the reports came out in the media, Task Force Usig was already organized. Thus, the AFP deemed it more appropriate to let the task force conduct any investigation lest the AFP be accused of whitewashing the matter.

Additionally, Gen. Esperon said that to investigate Gen. Palparan during the time when he was neutralizing the NPA would have been counter-productive. Although Gen. Esperon admitted that the AFP has the power and authority to investigate if any of its officers has violated certain rules and regulations, such investigation may, however, muddle or obstruct any on-going operation. Gen. Esperon added that the AFP has confidence in the duly constituted investigative body.

Atty. Vinluan mentioned an incident in Mindoro wherein Eden Marcellana and Eddie Gumanoy were abducted by 20 men believed to be members of the military and military assets. Gen. Esperon could not say whether an investigation was conducted on the matter, reasoning that he was stationed in Basilan at the time the incident happened.

16. Reaction on the following statements made by Gen. Palparan:

General Esperon was asked for his reaction to General Palparans public image and statements appearing in media reports, among which were as follows:

Potential vigilante style actions by anti-communist elements outside the military organization cannot be stopped completely and the killing of activists are necessary incident to conflict.

I cannot order my soldiers to kill, its their judgment call, they can do it on their own.

I encourage people victimized by communist rebels to get even.

The killings are being attributed to me but I did not kill them, I just inspire the trigger men.

Their (three student doing research work outside Manila) disappearance is good for us but as to who abducted them we dont know.

Gen. Esperon refused to answer any question in relation to Gen. Palparans statements, reasoning that Gen. Palparan himself should be the one to answer the same.

Chairman Melo asked Gen. Esperon if it occurred to him to call Gen. Palparan to explain his statements. Gen. Esperon related that he called Gen. Palparan regarding the three (3) students who disappeared. Gen. Palparan denied any involvement and expressed his willingness to submit to any investigation by the Task Force Usig. Gen. Esperon added that he recalled calling Gen. Palparan about a statement (he forgot which) and the latter said he was misquoted by the newspaper. Gen. Esperon advised him to be careful with his statements.

Gen. Esperon said that assuming the above-statements were true, those are not right words that should come from an officer. He added that the statements, if true, do not reflect well on the AFP, but it does not mean that the military should be blamed for the killings.

It appears that the AFP did not investigate Gen. Palparan on the matter on the ground that no formal complaint was lodged.

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