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Philippines arrests 'The Butcher' after two-year hunt

Ex-general said to have ordered several activist murders
Philippines arrests 'The Butcher' after two-year hunt

Activists display pictures of retired army major-general Jovito Palparan during a protest rally. (File photo by Vincent Go)

Published: August 12, 2014 04:26 AM GMT
Updated: August 11, 2014 06:27 PM GMT

Security forces on Tuesday arrested retired army major-general Jovito Palparan in the suburb of Santa Mesa in Manila, ending a two-year hunt for one of the Philippines’ most wanted men.

Human rights groups have dubbed Palparan "The Butcher" because of the number of alleged extra-judicial killings in areas where he was assigned.

Authorities nabbed the former commander of the army's 7th Infantry Division about 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday, two weeks after President Benigno Aquino ordered the police and military "to bring to the bar of justice high profile fugitives like Palparan".

"It [was] difficult to arrest Palparan because he is good at hiding. His advantage is he is one of us. He knows our techniques, he knows our procedures," military spokesman Lt-Col Ramon Zagala said.

"He was reluctant to be arrested but after seeing that [soldiers were among the arresting units] he willingly surrendered," said Zagala.

"He ran away, but the long arm of the law caught up with him," he added.

Zagala said the arrest of Palparan disproves allegations by human rights groups that the military was protecting Palparan.

"We are a professional organization," he said, adding that the military was given special instructions to capture the fugitive general. 

Palparan went into hiding in December 2011 after a court in Bulacan province issued a warrant for his arrest for the kidnapping of two university students in June 2006.

The government had offered about US$114,000 for information that would lead to the former general's capture.

Human rights group Karapatan (Rights) said that among those allegedly killed by Palparan were human rights defender Eden Marcellana, peasant leader Eddie Gumanoy, Protestant pastor Edison Lapuz, lawyer Fedelito Dacut and Bishop Alberto Ramento of the Philippine Independent Church.

From 2005 to 2006, when Palparan was commanding officer of the army's 7th Infantry Division, there were five incidents of massacre while 71 activists were victims of extrajudicial killings.   

"We call on all the victims of Palparan to come out and file charges against him in court. He should not get away from his sins to the Filipino people," Cristina Palabay, Karapatan spokeswoman said.

Lorena Santos, secretary-general of the Families of Desaparecidos for Justice, said that while she welcomes Palparan's arrest, "we remain more vigilant to see that justice be served soon".

Santos said Palparan is accountable for at least 59 enforced disappearances, five in Mindoro province, 42 in Central Luzon, and 12 in Eastern Visayas.

Dean Lacandazo, convenor of End Impunity Alliance in Eastern Visayas, said the arrest of Palparan is "a single step to justice" because the general "is yet to face in full the consequences of his blood debt".

Palparan was stationed in Eastern Visayas in 2005 where he was also accused of masterminding numerous cases of extrajudicial killings of activists.

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