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Palparan guilty of murder in privilege speech
In The Press Posted on September 24th, 2009.
Source:Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Call it a case of “murder through privilege speech.”
Militant party-list lawmakers have learned to ignore their ardent critics in the House of Representatives, including their new colleague Bantay Rep. Jovito Palparan, because, they said, the latter could discredit themselves on their own.
In an interview with Philippine Daily Inquirer editors and reporters on Tuesday night, Representatives Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño of Bayan Muna and Liza Maza of Gabriela said Palparan made a “booboo” when he denounced in a privilege speech on Sept. 8 the violence in Calbayog City that purportedly resulted in a number of deaths.
But it was Palparan who “killed” four of the men who, according to Western Samar Rep. Reynaldo Uy, were very much alive.
Alive and well
Uy later wondered whether Palparan—a retired major general whom activists dub berdugo (butcher)—could be charged with “murder through privilege speech.”
Uy contested Palparan’s claim, including the number of the dead.
In his own privilege speech delivered a week later, Uy said Palparan had actually “killed” four of the men who were actually alive and well.
In fact, two of the “dead men” were seated in the gallery of the session hall during Uy’s speech.
“Mr. Speaker, our colleague General Palparan has a penchant for wishing people dead, probably because of his hangover from the killing fields in Mindoro, Samar and Leyte and in Central Luzon, which he maintained during his days of military adventurism,” Uy said.
Palparan was branded berdugo because of the deaths and disappearances of activists in the areas where he was assigned as a military commander.
He has denied involvement in the crimes and maintained that he was just being made the propaganda target of communist insurgents.
Ocampo, Maza and Casiño recalled that things turned interesting when Palparan and other new party-list lawmakers were inducted into office early this year following a Supreme Court ruling increasing the number of party-list seats.
As representative of Bantay, a group of militiamen and security guards, Palparan is now working in the same session hall as the militant lawmakers whose groups he had labeled as communist fronts.
Ocampo said he and his colleagues ignore Palparan, and vice versa.
Palparan’s own colleague, Anad Rep. Pastor Alcover, is the more vocal critic of the militant lawmakers, who have learned not to react to his speeches and statements as well, Ocampo said.
Added Casiño: “We don’t have to do anything to discredit them [because Palparan’s privilege speech has done that job].”
In that speech, Palparan assailed the purported reign of terror in Calbayog, saying the residents had lost confidence in the local government because of killings and bombings.
He claimed that the politically motivated violence had led to 12 deaths in a month, and was carried out by a warlord’s private army that was supposedly backed by the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).
The violence, he added, was meant to silence dissent and opposition because elections were approaching.
Palparan had also said in his speech that the representative of Samar’s first district used NPA members as goons, and that the province’s lawmakers had wrongfully blamed him and the military for abductions.
He said this other lawmaker had also caused him to be relieved of his duties.
Palparan said he had thought this lawmaker would disband or discipline his private army but that the latter did not.
He said this was why he was making the privilege speech: “Because it was a matter of life or death for so many people only to satisfy one’s political hold in an area, and because I have no other means to protect the people of Calbayog City as I did before, with the use of soldiers.”
But according to Uy, violence proliferated in his province when Palparan headed the 8th Infantry Division assigned there.
He said the retired major general was being used by his political opponents who wanted to destroy the image of Calbayog and Samar’s first district in order to gain media mileage.
Uy ended his speech by sarcastically singing a line from the old song, “How much is that Bantay (doggie) in the window?”