Burned bone found in site identified by torture victim

Photo courtesy of Raymund Villanueva.

Photo courtesy of Raymund Villanueva.

A fact-finding mission had found what appeared to be a burned human bone, in a place identified as an old Army camp by brothers Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo. The Manalo brothers, as they are called, were abducted and tortured but managed to escape. They said members of the military took them, brought them to several military camps, and tortured them.
Click here to read about the results of the fact-finding mission. The stories the Manalo brothers told need to be told and retold, until we have memorized all the details, down to the commas and the periods. Because the stories of torture, of cruel and inhuman punishment inflicted on people whom the military has labelled as enemies of the State were stories we had thought belonged to another, more cruel, more inhuman, era, one which we are trying to forget: the Marcos era.

Though Martial Law was something that Marcos declared and imposed on us, it would not have lasted for long as it did had not many of us acquiesced to it. Many of those who implemented it, who willingly joined the government, the military and the police at a time when it was their duty to do what should not have been done, are with us. Many of them have passed on the knowledge they have gained — not only on torture but how to get away with it as well — to their deputies and trainees, who willingly absorbed the evil that was being passed on.

Now the military is trying to deny that a detachment actually used the camp. Just as they denied, and continue to deny, that the Manalo brothers were taken and tortured by soldiers and officers who were supposed to serve and protect the people. They deny in the face of a Court of Appeals and, lately, a Supreme Court affirmation of that decision, linking a military officer, whom they honored and lauded up to his retirement day, to the heinous crime.

The stories of the Manalo brothers, and of other torture and disappearances as well, must be told and retold, until justice is done and the evil purged out of our system. Even then we must remember, if we must continue to distinguish Right from Wrong.
Because if one thinks about it, the crime was done by people who believed it was right to do wrong. They remain with us until now, justifying their crimes, their lies, their lives — for everyone who follows them, who does as they do, is one more justification for the evil that they commit. It is, as they say, a numbers game. Evil becomes the standard, when more people choose Evil over Good.

press releases:

Punish Palparan, impeach Arroyo!

GMA and her favorite ex-general and butcher should both be jailed

The Families of the Desaparecidos for Justice (DESAPARECIDOS) today said retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. and other military officials implicated in cases of enforced disappearance should be punished, and their commander-in-chief Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should be impeached.

“Now retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan is Arroyo’s favorite butcher and standard of military performance and justice. They should both face the bar of justice and be jailed,” said Mary Guy Portajada, Desaparecidos spokesperson, as she hailed the Supreme Court decision affirming the Court of Appeals granting of the writ of amparo for brothers Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo. The two were abducted, tortured, and illegally detained by the military for eighteen months. The two victims were abducted in San Ildefonso, Bulacan on February 14, 2006 and were able to escape on June 2007.

Raymond Manalo had also testified that they were detained with the two missing UP students, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño and farmer Manuel Meriño who were abducted in Hagonoy, Bulacan on June 26, 2006. Raymond also testified that Palparan talked to him during his incommunicado detention. The Cadapan and Empeño families were among those who filed an impeachment case against Arroyo on Oct. 13.

Portajada said that this development should help hasten the criminal and administrative cases filed by Raymond at the Ombudsman and civil cases filed at the Quezon City regional trial court. Among the respondents are Palparan, Armed Forces Chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, Maj. Gen. Juanito Gomez, MSgts. Rizal Hilario and Donald Caigas.

In another development, Raymond returned to the site where he last saw Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno. The exhumation led by Karapatan and the Commission on Human Rights at the abandoned camp of the Army’s 24th IB in Brgy. Bliss, Limay, Bataan is currently ongoing. The evidence being gathered are set to be analyzed by forensic experts.

“If it were not for Raymond Manalo and his courageous testimony, the courts will still be accepting the military’s lies about the desaparecidos they have taken. But the decision by the courts gives even more strength to Raymond’s testimony,” Portajada said.

She added: “While Palparan and the other military officials are the implementors, Mrs. Arroyo is just as guilty, being the one who gives the blessings for all these crimes.” Karapatan had documented 200 victims of enforced disappearance from 2001 up to this year, under Arroyo’s term.

Arrest Palparan & His Commander-in-Chief! — NYCHRP

With the recent ruling of the Supreme Court officially linking the abduction and torture of brothers Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo of Bulacan to retired Army General Jovito Palparan, local rights group New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP) challenged the Supreme Court (SC) to take the landmark verdict to the next level and pursue justice by “arresting Palparan and his commander-in-chief.”

“We want the complete pursuit of justice. With this SC ruling, there is now basis to arrest Jovito Palparan for the capture and torture of the Manalo brothers, who were detained for 18 months, heavily tortured, and were lucky enough to escape,” stated NYCHRP member Gary Labao, also originally from Bulacan.

Abducted and accused of being members of the New Peoples Army (NPA), both Manalo brothers testified to witnessing the torture of others while in detention, including that of Manuel Merino, a detainee who was actually set on fire by the soldier captors, as well as run-ins in the military camp with Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, still-missing students from the University of the Philippines.

Upon escape, the brothers Manolo sought protection from government harassment by filing for a writ of amparo, which the high court would grant. A fact-finding initiative from the Court of Appeals produced hard evidence that established factual linkage of “Palparan’s participation in the brothers’ abduction”, as well as that of volunteers from the “Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Units” or CAFGU’s.

“CAFGU’s are basically death squads,” Labao stated. “It is now confirmed that the Philippine military is working in tandem with death squads in its abduction and torture operations in the provinces.”

SC Chief Justice Reynato Puno upheld and supported the findings by the appellate court.

On the side of the AFP, testimonies offered by Lt. Col. Ruben Jimenez of the 7th Infantry Division, were categorically dismissed as “superficial” while attempts to debunk the Manalo brothers’ claims by Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro and AFP Staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon were also rejected by the high court.

“While we are very pleased with SC Justice Reynato Puno’s ruling on the side of the Manalo brothers, we believe action must be taken at once. Palparan and his superiors, particularly his commander-in-chief in Malacanang should be arrested for their continued and proven crimes against the people,” Labao ended.

Members of NYCHRP include former victims of illegal arrest and torture in the Philippines as well as family members of abductees. ###

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