Hunt for Palparan goes to Facebook
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines—The hunt by National Bureau of Investigation tracker teams for retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. bore no fruit on its second day Thursday. So it was time for them to be creative on the days leading up to the long Christmas weekend.
Lawyer Ricardo Diaz, NBI Central Luzon director, said on Thursday that he posted a message to Palparan on the general’s Facebook page, hoping to draw the fugitive out of hiding, or to coax Palparan’s 4,660 Facebook friends to help negotiate a peaceful surrender.
“I sent him a message offering to open negotiations to prevent untoward incidents,” Diaz said. “In the spirit of Christmas, I told him puwede naman naming pag-usapan yung (we could negotiate) the how and when of his surfacing.”
Palparan used to contact the Inquirer after a case of kidnapping was filed against him and three other Army officers, but he has not been accessible for the last two days.
Diaz said he has not uploaded a copy of the warrant issued by Judge Teodora Gonzales of the Bulacan Regional Trial Court for the arrest of Palparan and his co-accused in the June 2006 kidnapping of University of the Philippines students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño in Hagonoy, Bulacan.
Diaz said serving the arrest warrant through the social networking site would not have any legal bearing.
An arrest warrant “should be personally served but I’m using FB to send him a message.… By the way, our rules on criminal procedure were issued before Facebook [was invented]. Sana we can arrest him via Skype,” Diaz said.
“His (Palparan) last Facebook posting was on December 7,” he said.
The NBI waited for a response until after noon on Thursday, but did not receive any reply from Palparan.
Diaz also urged reporters to help persuade Palparan to surface.
“Perhaps you can call or text him [to ask] if we can negotiate. Otherwise tracker teams will surely catch up with him one of these days. What he is doing [by hiding] is different from what [he told reporters] in his interviews that he would not resist the authorities who would serve the warrant. He is obviously hiding,” Diaz later said by text message.
In the City of Malolos, some businessmen offered support for Palparan.
Dan Ong, a businessman formerly connected with Ore Asia Mining Development Corp. in Donya Remedios Trinidad, had been appealing for support for Palparan over social networking sites and through text messages. Ong once hired Palparan’s security agency.
He said firms operating in communist-influenced Bulacan towns like San Miguel, San Ildefonso, San Rafael, Donya Remedios Trinidad, Angat, Norzagaray and Pandi now feel threatened once more after the general retired.
One of the pro-Palparan text messages said: “His effort of eradicating communist atrocities and lawlessness had backfired…. He is now the subject of unlawful arrest without bail. Without prima facie [evidence], our justice system, DOJ [Department of Justice], lower house [the House of Representatives], [and] members of the Cabinet [have been] influenced by Leftists. As concerned citizens and businessmen, let us not allow this authoritarian rule [to] take place. Let our voice be heard. Let us support his survival and his family. Let’s give a prayer of support.”
The businessmen credit Palparan with introducing the Barangay Defense System (BDS) in communities frequented by rebels. The BDS requires village officials, watchmen and residents to patrol their villages and ferret out communist rebels.
According to the human rights group, Karapatan, at least 10 cases of murder of Leftist leaders in Bulacan took place under Palparan’s watch.
The fisherfolk alliance, Pamalakaya, urged officials and counterinsurgency experts in the Armed Forces of the Philippines “not to coddle” Palparan.
Pamalakaya’s P25-million libel suit against Palparan for labeling them as communist rebels has been dismissed by a Quezon City court for lack of jurisdiction.
In a statement, Pamalakaya Chair Fernando Hicap said “some AFP officials might be engaged in harboring” Palparan, given his “interlocking connections in the AFP.”
“The AFP regards Palparan’s extrajudicial killing exploits and extremely brutal counterinsurgency campaigns as first-rate model for AFP,” Hicap said, adding that the “policy of extrajudicial killing executed by Palparan remains a topnotch military advocacy under Aquino.”
The “extreme behavior and defiance” shown by Palparan against the arrest warrant indicated that the former general “has still connections and enjoys protection from AFP generals.”