Priest willing to testify against Palparan

Infamously labelled as ‘The Butcher’, Palparan is accused of the brutal killings of progressive leaders in Mindoro.

September 02 2014, 12:16 PM
Priest willing to testify against Palparan
Father Edwin Gariguez

Executive director of the social action secretariat of the Catholic bishops' conference Father Edwin Gariguez is willing to attest to the numerous human rights violations perpetrated by retired Majoral General Jovito Palparan.

Palparan, wanted for the 2006 disappearance of University of the Philippines students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, was arrested on August 12 after three years in hiding.

In a recent development, relatives of the detainees and inmates at the Bulacan Provincial Jail have appealed to the government to transfer Palparan from Bulacan. They are afraid that their relatives inside the jail will be harmed due to threats to the life of Palparan.

Infamously labelled as ‘The Butcher’, Palparan is accused of the brutal killings of progressive leaders in Mindoro. He was the commanding officer of the 204th Brigade assigned in Mindoro and Romblon from May 2001 to April 2003 during the Arroyo administration.

Father Gariguez was in the top 6 spot on Palparan’s liquidation list.

“I worked for the Mangyan Mission during that time and I was the executive director for the Church-based farmers’ apostolate, Peasant Empowerment and Advocacy Network [Peasant-Net], and we were pursuing agrarian reform program in Mindoro. I led the anti-mining campaign also, so most of the time we have mobilizations or rallies. Palparan thought those people expressed their sentiments are already communists,” Father Gariguez shared his reflections of eleven years ago.

He remembered that his fortieth birthday was marked by an “unforgettable period of brutal liquidation of leaders of progressive movements” in Mindoro with suspected rebel sympathizers not just killed, but tortured, decapitated, or summarily executed, and in a number of cases, with their ears and tongue chopped off or eyes plucked out.

According to Father Gariguez, to be considered a “threat” to the powers-that-be is proof enough that he was not a “fence-sitter”, but had “cast his lot among the poor of Yahweh.”

“During his reign of terror, Palparan lumped together all those in progressive movements, even people from the church doing justice advocacy for the poor, and they were targeted for assassination. They were tagged as dissident terrorist in Palparan’s list and his list even included me. That’s why I needed to leave the diocese for a while, when Palparan was there,” Father Gariguez cited.

He used to document all the extrajudicial killings in Mindoro, where most of the victims were tortured mercilessly.

He said that justice should be served and Palparan should be made accountable for his crimes against humanity.

“I documented the extrajudicial killings in Mindoro and submitted them to AFP. I can make the files available and I can testify if the documents can be found to support the crime of Palparan,” Father Gariguez said.

Source: CBCP News