Priest willing to testify against Palparan

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MANILA, August 13, 2014 –- Executive director of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines – National Secretariat for Social Action Justice and Peace (CBCP-NASSA) Fr. Edwin Gariguez is willing to attest to the numerous human rights violations perpetrated by Retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan during the Arroyo administration, including the brutal killings of progressive leaders in Mindoro.

Gariguez, who was the executive director of Peasant-Net, a founding leader of Alyansa Laban sa Mina (ALAMIN), and a part-time staff for Mangyan Mission at the time, shared his reflections eleven years ago, when he was in the top 6 spot on Palparan’s liquidation list.

Reign of terror

“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, while Palparan was there,” Gariguez cited.
According to Gariguez, 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 the priest, 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.”

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

Fr. Edwin Gariguez, was awarded the 2012 Goldman Environmental Prize for work to stop irresponsible mining on Mindoro Island. (Photo Credit: Goldman Environmental Prize)

Willing to testify

“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,” Gariguez recalls.

The latter said that justice should be served and Palparan should be made accountable for his crimes against humanity.
The retired army official, Jovito Palparan was the commanding officer of the 204th Brigade assigned in Mindoro and Romblon from May 2001 to April 2003.

“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,” Gariguez ended.

Palparan, wanted for the 2006 disappearance of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño of the University of the Philippines (UP) was found in Sta. Mesa, Manila on August 12. (SocialActionNews)

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