Palparan finally issued subpoena in libel case


By Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:57:00 05/25/2008

MANILA, Philippines—The Quezon City prosecutor’s office has finally issued a subpoena to retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan in connection with the P20-million libel suit filed by the militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) against him nearly two years ago.

The complainant, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap, broke the news to the media upon receipt over the weekend of a copy of the subpoena issued May 7 by Quezon City assistant prosecutor Corazon Romano.

Romano ordered Palparan, as well as Hicap, to appear before her on June 19 at 2 p.m. for a preliminary hearing.

“We are ready for this face-off. We want to face him and tell him right to his face his crimes and sins against the fisher people and peace-loving folks in Bulacan,” Hicap said in a press statement, alluding to Palparan’s alleged involvement in extrajudicial killings and involuntary disappearances when he was in the military.

The preliminary investigation would require Palparan to swear to his written statement and submit himself for clarificatory questioning.

Palparan would also be required submit counteraffidavits but would be allowed to move for the dismissal of the case.

The libel case stemmed from statements issued by the controversial former military general against leaders and members of the fisherfolk group and the activist party-list group Anakpawis in the Bulacan coast areas.

‘Grave dangers’

Palparan had accused Pamalakaya and Anakpawis in an Inquirer interview of creating trouble along the coastal areas of the province through intimidation and recruitment of civilians to the outlawed New People’s Army (NPA) and extorting P50,000 monthly from fishpond operators in the province.

In the same interview, Palparan said it was necessary to single out Pamalakaya and Anakpawis in the counter-insurgency campaign of the government to eliminate communist guerillas.

Pamalakaya interpreted Palparan’s statement as an open endorsement of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the province.

In their nine-page complaint, Pamalakaya said that aside from tarnishing its image, stature and reputation, Palparan’s statements indirectly threatened its officials, organizers and members with “grave dangers” to their lives, security and safety.

“It exposes them to dangers of extrajudicial killings, abductions, threats and harassment,” Hicap said.

In asserting its legitimacy as a people’s organization engaged in various advocacy work, Pamalakaya said it was a legal organization registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

As a federation, Pamalakaya said it had 36 provincial chapters all over the country and individual members numbering not less than 80,000 as of July 2006.

As a fisherfolk organization, Pamalakaya has been invited to various gatherings abroad, including the United Nations, which made Pamalakaya a resource group in the early 1990s for the crafting of the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas (Unclos).

In the last 20 years, Pamalakaya leaders and representatives have gone to the United States, Italy, Denmark, India, Sri Lanka, France, South Africa, Hong Kong, Cambodia, France, Kenya and the Netherlands to attend various international conferences and gatherings of fisherfolk across the globe, it said.

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