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Palparan qualified to be congressman, Palace says

April 22, 2009 2:57pm
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Wednesday rushed to the defense of retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. after several militant lawmakers deplored the possibility of his occupying a seat in the House of Representatives.

In a press briefing, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita assured the public that despite Palparan's reputation as a notorious human rights violator, he was qualified to assume the post of congressman.

"General Palparan is an experienced officer. He would not have been promoted if he was not qualified and so he can definitely contribute [to the House]. He has contributed much in the counterinsurgency effort," Ermita said.

Palaparan, dubbed as "The Butcher" by political activists, is the main face of Bantay party-list, an organization that focuses on anti-communism work. It also supports the military by following up on their clearing operations.

Bantay ranked 32nd in the Supreme Court's list of party-list groups entitled to have seats in the House. The court ruling was released Tuesday.

Once seated in the House, Palparan said he would help communities affected by the communist insurgency.

Dismayed

Militant party-lists, allegedly connected with the NPA, were dismayed at the possibility of Palparan becoming a congressman.

Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo vowed that he would be ready to "clash" with the former military official once Palparan was sworn in as Bantay representative. When asked about his thoughts about what would happen if both of them were in Congress, he said: "Tingnan natin [we’ll see]."

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) party-list questioned Palparan’s loyalty, saying Palparan "owes his latest position to the support given to him by Malacañang and the Armed Forces of the Philippines."

Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes Jr. claimed that during the 2007 elections several incidents showed that military men had violated their mandate as AFP members by campaigning for Palaparan and his party-list.

'One incident in Bocaue, Bulacan, even resulted in a confrontation between 11 soldiers and supporters of CIBAC party-list and mayoral candidate Eduardo Villanueva Jr., son of Brother Eddie Villaneuva," Reyes said.

Reyes also scored Palparan's chance of assuming the post as a party-list lawmaker, saying Palaparan was "gloating" at the fact that he would get to sit in Congress "and terrorize the public anew."

Human rights watchdog Karapatan branded the possibility as "bad news," warning that Palparan "would use his position to further incite the campaign of annihilation against human rights defenders and activists."

Blame the SC

Ermita washed his hands of the issue, saying the decision was handed down by high court and not the Palace.

"It’s in the Constitution to have party-list reps... The Supreme COurt has decided that the Comelec [Commission on Elections] can increase party-list to 55… I don’t see how this would affect the system where this number of party-list would be included ... We hope they have enough capability to perform the job in behalf of the sector they represent," Ermita said. - With Aie Balagtas See, GMANews.TV



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