New crop of officers reject failed ‘Palparan solution’

QUINAPONDAN, EASTERN SAMAR—A top military officer admitted on Tuesday that the “Palparan solution” did not help any in solving the country’s communist insurgency problem.

Lt. Gen. Pedro Ike Inserto, commanding general of the AFP Central Command, was referring to retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, who became controversial for instigating an all-out war against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, New People’s Army (NPA).

Hundreds of alleged extra-judicial killings and human rights abuses took place in areas where Palparan was assigned.

“Nothing came out with this Palparan solution. Look at him, he has long retired from the service yet he is still being hounded by allegations of human rights abuses,” Inserto said.

Inserto mentioned the “Palparan solution” several times in his talks with the 801st Infantry Brigade commander, Brig. Gen. Francis Lanuza, other military officials and five town mayors in the province, but he declined to elaborate what he meant to local journalists.

“You know about it,” was Inserto’s curt answer.

The Central Command chief, however, belied claims of human rights groups that Palparan had enjoyed the support of Malacañang and the leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Inserto went to this town, the base of the Army’s 62nd Infantry Battalion under the command of Lt. Col. Jonathan Ponce, to assess the counterinsurgency campaign in Eastern Samar province.

Palparan served as the top Army officer in Eastern Visayas for eight months in 2005 and vowed to end the region’s insurgency problem.

According to the human rights group Katungod-Sinirangan Bisayas, 36 extra-judicial killings and 712 human rights abuses were committed during his stint. Palparan, however, denied any involvement in the allegations.

Palparan assumed command of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division based in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija province on Sept. 1, 2005. His first stint in Central Luzon was in 1981 when he was executive officer of the 24th IB based in Pampanga province.

New generation of officers

According to Inserto, there is now a “new and young generation” of AFP officers headed by Armed Forces chief Gen. Alexander Yano, who do not condone any human rights abuses.

“We have realized that winning the battle is not through an armed struggle but winning the hearts and minds of people. The (military) operations that we have conducted were one of the reasons why up to now, the insurgency problem still persists in the country,” Inserto said.

He urged the military to closely cooperate with other sectors in society, like local government units, church leaders, journalists and the villagers in their battles against the CPP rebels.

“We have to work especially with the Church. When a priest says that you are ugly, though you look like Fernando Poe Jr., people will believe him,” Inserto said.

‘Benevolent Torturer’ tag

As early as 1981, Palparan earned the tag “Benevolent Torturer” for releasing activists after interrogation and torture.

In an approach never done by commanders before him, Palparan expanded the theater of war by deploying special operation teams (SOTs) in about 200 towns and cities where suspected CPP front organizations flourished. The military called these white areas.

The human rights group Karapatan said at least 71 summary executions, five massacres, 14 frustrated killings and 46 disappearances occurred in all of Central Luzon’s seven provinces from February 2001 to August 2006 during Palparan’s 11-month stint. With a report from Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

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