Most soldiers will be “delighted” in case retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. will be released from imprisonment that stemmed from kidnapping charges, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said over the weekend.
Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., AFP spokesman, said Palparan had faced a “very hard case” when he was arrested in August 2014 by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
“Well, Gen. Palparan faced a very hard case. He faced the charges filed against him. Most of his cases were filed by the Left,” Padilla told reporters in a chance interview on Saturday in Quezon City.
The military, he added, has high respects for Palparan, given the ex-military officer’s accomplished works when he was an active duty soldier.
“If ever his [Palparan] innocence will be proven because we followed the process and he will be freed, most of our soldiers, especially those who served under him, would be delighted,” Padilla said.
The military spokesman came up with the statement in wake of the spread of hashtag campaigns on Facebook accounts of military forums calling for the release of Palparan from jail.
Palparan was known for his strong stance against communist rebels and was tagged by human rights group Karapatan as a “butcher” for allegedly torturing and killing political activists when he was the commander of the Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Division.
In 2014, Palparan was arrested by the NBI after going into hiding when he was ordered arrested by a Bulacan court in 2011 in connection with the 2006 abduction of two students from the University of the Philippines.
Padilla also made the statements on Palparan a day after the AFP declared an all-out war against the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New People’s Army (NPA).
The military made the declaration after President Rodrigo Duterte canceled peace talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), an umbrella group that counts the CPP and the NPA as members.
Palparan had slammed then-Davao City mayor Duterte for being too close with the CPP-NPA-NDFP when the latter ran for President in the May 2016 elections.
The retired soldier, who is detained at the Philippine Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, was also known for his aggressive campaign against the NPA rebels when he was an Army commander.
Padilla said the government had entered the peace negotiations with the communists “in good faith” and had shown its “sincerity” to them.
The CPP-NPA-NDFP, however, went into the talks in “bad faith,” according to the AFP spokesman.
The military official added that there were certain protocols while the talks with the Left were ongoing.
“There were certain protocols, part of which is JASIG [Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees] and as you said the temporary release [from] custody of certain individuals so that they can participate in the negotiations but they also know and they are aware that release from custody is only temporary,” Padilla said.
“They [NDFP consultants] should submit themselves back to the fold of the law. But if they do not, then it is a clear manifestation that they never intended to go back to where they came from,” he added.
When asked if the resistance from the consultants would have an impact on the ground, Padilla replied, “Of course. They have been part of the organization and they will certainly have a part during their time with the communists.”
The NDF consultants, including Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma, were temporarily released by Duterte for the peace negotiations.
Recent NPA attacks on government forces in the countryside, however, made the President decide to scrap the talks and resume war against the communist armed group.