Congress hearing will reveal more Palparans — Solon

Nov. 07, 2012

“This will refute the statement of General Bautista of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that Palparan is the last of his kind.  In fact many Palparans exists and they have not been prosecuted” — Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares

Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Committee of Human Rights of the House of Representatives’ onsite hearing tomorrow (November 8) will prove that there are many more Palparans, said Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares.

“This will refute the statement of General (Emmanuel) Bautista of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that Palparan is the last of his kind.  In fact, many Palparans exists and they have not been prosecuted,” said Colmenares.

General Jovito Palparan is tagged by human rights activists as “The Butcher,” having been involved in allegations of human rights violations wherever he is assigned.  Palparan already has a standing warrant of arrest for the kidnapping and serious illegal detention of University of the Philippines students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan and three others, who all disappeared in 2006.  However, there is no news of his whereabouts to date.

The House Committee will be conducting an onsite hearing acting on numerous resolutions covering many cases of human rights violations specifically in Mindanao.

House Resolutions

Bayan Muna filed House Resolution (HR) Number 67 investigating the killing of Gregan Cardeño, who was working for American troops as an interpreter; HR 1835 calling for a probe of the assassination of Italian missionary Father Fausto ‘Pops’ Tentorio; and another resolution against general vilification.

Anakpawis filed HR 1480 calling for the investigation of a shooting incident of farmers camping in the Central Mindanao University campus; HR 2304 directing an investigation of the extrajudicial killing of Jimmy Libuyon, a farmer in Bukidnon from the lumad (indigenous) Manobo tribe; and HR 1780 directing the House committee to investigate the alleged militarization of workplaces such as banana plantations.

Kabataan Party-list filed a house resolution to investigate the alleged threats and intimidation of the school administrators of the Assumption College of Davao in relation to a streamer they hung along their fence which called for justice for Fr. Pops and condemning Operation Plan Bayanihan.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers also filed a resolution to investigate the harassment of small scale miners in Zamboanga del Sur.

Gabriela Women’s party-list filed a resolution on the investigation of the brutal killing of Rudy and Rodi Rick Dejos, farmers from Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur.

Colmenares said 30 to 31 witnesses will testify in relation to the house resolutions.  However, many human rights violations have not yet been included in the agenda.

Other human rights violations

Both Colmenares and Anakpawis Representative Rafael ‘Ka Paeng’ Mariano said recent cases of human rights violations such as that of the Tampakan Massacre, may also be investigated by the house committee motu propio (of its own accord).  This means that while the case is not on the agenda, it may be included if somebody from the house committee raises a motion to include it.

Last month, Juvy Capion, an anti-mining advocate from Kiblawan, Davao del Sur, which is near Tampakan, South Cotabato, and his two young sons were killed by military men.  As of press time, Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza, spokesperson of the Eastern Mindanao Command, said that the soldiers involved are facing a court martial.

Juland Suazo of Panalipdan said that Juvy is one of the 15 environmental activists from Mindanao killed in relation to their stance against mining and foreign plunder.

Gabriela Women’s Party-list Representative Luz Ilagan, who hails from Mindanao, said in a statement that the Capion massacre in Tampakan and the ambush of Dr. Isidro Olan in Carmen Surigao del Sur are the latest examples of how defenders of ancestral lands and natural resources have become open targets.

Peoples’ Congress

Mariano said it is the duty of the members of Congress to go to the people affected.

“This will show us what should be given priority and to get the facts first hand.  It should be a people’s congress,” said Mariano.

“It will be difficult for witnesses if all congressional hearings are held in Manila; and it can be intimidating.  That is why we pushed, as authors of the resolution, for it to be done on site,” said Colmenares.

A similar onsite hearing was conducted in Visayas last month.

The congressional hearing will hear the witnesses on the first day while state-agents who are alleged perpetrators will only be allowed to appear on the second day.

“The committee deemed it necessary that alleged perpetrators will only be invited on the second day.  We are trying to prevent the witnesses from getting intimidated,” said Colmenares.

Other members of the committee who will be attending tomorrow’s inquiry are Congressman Karlo Nograles of Davao’s first District, Congressman Erin Tañada of Quezon City’s fourth District and Human Rights committee chairperson Congressman Rene Relampagos of Bohol.

Colmenares said that, to date, there are already 116 victims of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines under the Aquino administration, 26 of whom are from Mindanao.  (John Rizle L. Saligumba/

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