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Students march against ex-general

Former military chief should face jail for disappearance of two activists

Activists demanding the arrest of military officials involved in the disappearance of students stand face-to-face with police outside the Supreme Court building (photo by Rene Sandajan) Activists demanding the arrest of military officials involved in the disappearance of students stand face-to-face with police outside the Supreme Court building (photo by Rene Sandajan)
  • D'Jay Lazaro, Manila
  • Philippines
  • July 8, 2011
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Christian students demonstrated with rights groups and the families of two missing activists yesterday to add impetus to proceedings against military officials linked to the abduction of the two university students five years ago.

Members of the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines held the protest outside the Justice Department where the case against retired major-general Jovito Palparan Jr. and several other military officials are being heard.

“It is our utmost desire to see to it that the likes of Palparan do not exist anymore in our society. We shall support the call for justice till the end,” said Kristine Valerio, the Christian body’s chairperson.

The parents of the two activists also challenged the former general to tell them “face to face” he had nothing to do with the disappearance of their children.

“We know this is just the beginning of the road towards justice. We would like to see Palparan behind bars," said Cristina Guevarra of the rights group Hustisya (justice).

“It is time for the perpetrators who have threatened and ruined so many lives to be prosecuted and punished for their crimes,” she added.

On May 4, Erlinda Cadapan and Concepcion Empeño, the mothers of the missing students, filed criminal complaints of rape, serious physical assault, arbitrary detention and maltreatment of prisoners against Palparan and other military officials.

Raymond Manalo, a former detainee and a key witness in the case, said he saw the students and even talked to them.

“Jailing him is not enough. But if he is imprisoned, all victims will be given a taste of justice,” he said.

Palparan headed the government’s counter-insurgency campaign codenamed Freedom Watch during the administration of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Human rights groups say there were many cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in places where he was assigned during this period.
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