Human rights alliance Karapatan learned on August 22, 2019 that retired major general Jovito Palparan, Jr., who was sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted of kidnapping and serious illegal detention of activists and University of the Philippines students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, was interviewed by Mocha Uson, former assistant secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).
“The interview of Palparan is highly questionable on all grounds. There should be a court motion filed if he wants to be interviewed or if someone wants to interview him. 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. This is not only a violation of proper procedure, but a grave insult to the victims’ families,” Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General said.
In her Facebook page, Uson shared photos of their interview with Palparan, along with a call to release him from prison. The photos were posted the night before a hearing involving the convict at the New Bilibid Prison yesterday, August 23, on charges filed by torture survivor Raymond Manalo.
“This is an another example of how this regime is favoring convicted criminals who abducted, forcibly disappeared and violated rights of Filipinos. It is truly outrageous that Duterte and his minions are mocking the country’s justice system to provide special treatment to butchers. After more than 10 years, the mothers of Karen and Sherlyn were finally able to see their daughters’ abductor locked behind bars, and now Mocha Uson comes in and desperately tries to rehabilitate Palparan’s image. We do not know what she is getting out of this, but we suggest that she make an effort to read 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 Malacanang,” she added.
The Karapatan official also suggested to Uson that she read Duterte’s own pronouncements against Palparan. ” In Duterte’s own words, he called Palparan “a bigot”, and “a pathetic former army general.” To Uson, huwag mo gamitin ang kasong ito para magpasipsip o magpapansin,” Palabay further said.
Karapatan also questioned Uson’s intentions in doing the interview: “We call the attention of the NBP that we will not take this sitting down. These are shameless efforts to rehabilitate Palparan’s image, to provide a pretext for his release from prison. He was not just accused of the crimes he committed, he was found guilty by a Philippine court and he deserves to rot in jail! To call for his release is a disrespect to all individuals and communities victimized under his brutal leadership,” the Karapatan official reiterated.
“In the strongest terms, we condemn this recent incident involving Palparan. We deplore this government’s whitewashing of crimes by convicted butchers. We will continue to stand with the families of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno, as we remain steadfast and vigilant in any and all attempts from criminals like Palparan – and their supporters like Uson – to evade accountability,” concluded Palabay.