Blogger and vocal administration supporter Mocha Uson sought the release of Jovito Palparan, who was convicted for the illegal detention and kidnapping of two university students, citing his notorious counter-insurgency career back then.
This petition worried some Filipinos given that this development came after the pending discharge of rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez.
Uson shared a video clip of her interview with Palparan on August 22 to campaign for Palparan’s freedom.
She believes Palparan could get rid of the suspected communist rebels in the country despite the human rights violations he was accused of back then.
She later shared a survey from a sketchy Facebook page called Social Media Survey Philippines, which backed the move to free the retired military general.
Moreover, one of her followers also shared a graphic alleging that administration critics Satur Ocampo (Bayan Muna), France Castro (ACT Teachers), Sarah Elago (Kabataan) and Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna), members of groups red-tagged by the government, should’ve been imprisoned rather than Palparan.
Human rights group Karapatan denounced Uson’s interview of Palparan as a mockery of the country’s judicial system and the victims’ families.
“We do not know what she is getting out of this, but we suggest that she reads the horrendous account of what Palparan has done to Karen and Sherlyn before she uses him to cozy up again to the militarist decision makers in Malacañang,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.
Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay on Mocha Uson's interview with convicted criminal Jovito Palparan inside…
It also questioned how the former presidential communication secretary was granted an interview without a court motion order provided by the rules of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
“The rules require that this motion should be known to the complainant and that the latter should have the chance to comment on the matter. In this case however, the complainant nor his lawyers remained oblivious of the interview until Uson posted it publicly,” Palabay said.
Other Filipinos also expressed alarm over the move of the former communication assistant secretary.
Mocha Uson is calling for the release of Jovito Palparan. I’M TERRIFIED AND ENRAGED! Palparan was found guilty for the murder, abduction, and torture of activists during the Macapagal-Arroyo Administration. This government has zero respect for human rights!
— mar (@marzedong) August 23, 2019
Palparan was sentenced to reclusion perpetua or 20 to 30 years of imprisonment last September 2018 for the kidnapping and serious illegal detention of University of the Philippines student-activists Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño after more than a decade of seeking justice for the victims.
Moreover, he was ordered to pay P100,000 civil indemnity and P200,000 in moral damages to the victims’ families.
Former presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. previously assured the families that Malacañang will not pardon Palparan.
Critics dubbed Palparan as “berdugo” or “The Butcher” for his alleged involvement in the persecution of activists and dissidents as head of the military’s campaign against rebellion during the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Palparan, the former commander of the 7th infantry battalion, was considered Arroyo’s favored general that time after he was promoted twice in-between months.
Aside from Cadapan and Empeño, Palparan was also tagged in the murders of a large number of activists and alleged communists in each area of the country he was assigned at, according to reports from the United Nations and Human Rights Watch.
In 2011, he made headlines when a warrant of arrest was finally issued against him for the disappearances of Empeño and Cadapan.
The two students were abducted from a house in Hagonoy, Bulacan where they were staying in for a field research in 2006.
Palparan went into hiding immediately after. He was apprehended in 2014 after being spotted in Sta. Manila in Manila.
He maintained his innocence until today. Meanwhile, the bodies of Empeño and Cadapan remain missing to this day. — Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos