A PHILIPPINE human rights alliance on Sunday slammed an anti-communist task force spokesperson for interviewing a jailed former military official who was found guilty of kidnapping university students.
“The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) is desperately dipping its feet in the business of valorizing criminals,” Karapatan said in a statement after the task force’s spokesperson interviewed Jovito Salvaña Palparan, Jr., who was sentenced to life in 2018 for kidnapping two University of the Philippines (UP) students.
The interview was aired last week on the television network owned by Filipino religious leader Apollo C. Quiboloy, who is wanted in the United States for sex trafficking and other charges.
The Philippine justice department said last week that it did not receive any permission for the interview. Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said that a justice official was set to investigate the issue.
“It comes as no surprise that the NTF ELCAC, through the unhinged (Undersecretary) Lorraine Badoy and this pathetic excuse of a ‘media network’ owned by a wanted sex trafficker, is desperately dipping its feet in the business of valorizing criminals and human rights violators like Palparan to further its rabid red-tagging campaign,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina E. Palabay said.
“After all, criminal minds think alike — yet such expectation does not make this despicable attempt to vindicate Palparan any less repugnant, especially when the families of his many victims still continue to cry for justice to this day,” she added.
In 2018, a regional trial court found Mr. Palparan and two co-accused guilty of kidnapping UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan on June 26, 2006 in the town of Hagonoy in Bulacan province, 36 kilometers north of the capital Manila.
Ms. Empeño was then doing field work for her thesis, while Ms. Cadapan was a volunteer for a peasant group in the province when they were abducted. They were believed to have been tortured, raped and later killed by soldiers, but their bodies have yet to be found.
“The NTF-ELCAC eagerly wants to whitewash, and at the same time replicate, Palparan’s foul record of violations of people’s rights and fascist attacks against the people with Badoy’s revolting SMNI interview — but if Palparan’s conviction tells us anything, it is that red-taggers will face justice for their bloody crimes,” Ms. Palabay said.
Karapatan and other civic groups last week filed administrative complaints against Ms. Badoy, who also serves as undersecretary for the Presidential Communications Operations Office, before the Ombudsman’s office for linking presidential candidate Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo and her supporters with the communist movement on a government platform.
Ms. Robredo has criticized the anti-communist task force for tagging administration critics as communists, while her main rival Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. has vowed to support its programs.
Mr. Marcos has already received the support of Mr. Quiboloy.
Economists and political experts have said that foreign investors are closely watching the views of Philippine presidential candidates on human rights issues. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza