Fishers’ group scores dismissal of libel raps vs Palparan


By Tonette Orejas
Central Luzon Desk
First Posted 07:57pm (Mla time) 07/22/2008

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines — The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya, National Federation of Fisherfolk Organizations) on Tuesday assailed a public prosecutor for dismissing a P20-million libel case against retired Army general Jovito Palparan Jr.

In her resolution, Quezon City Assistant Prosecutor Corazon Romano cited improper venue for the dismissal of the complaint filed in 2006.

The complaint arose from Palparan’s published statements in a July 2, 2006 story in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net) in which he alleged that Pamalakaya, the party-list group Anakpawis, and the New People’s Army committed wrongful activities in the coastal towns of Bulacan.

At that time, Palparan headed the Army’s 7th Infantry Division, his last tour of duty before retiring in September 2006.

Romano said in her one-page resolution that a “perusal of the complaint and its allegations disclosed the alleged defamatory and libelous statements were committed at the time where the respondent was indeed holding office in Tarlac City.”

The division is based in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.

Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya national chair, said the “issue of proper venue or lack of jurisdiction is one absurd legal technicality that is often used to score a perpetual denial of justice against [people seeking] truth and justice.”

“Something is really, really wrong here. The prosecutor should have [gone] beyond the issue of technicality and correctly [addressed] the issue that is a matter of life and death to victims of Palparan’s raging campaign of terror,” Hicap said in a statement, referring to the alleged string of human rights violations when Palparan was still in active military service.

Learning of the dismissal, Palparan said: “That’s okay. Thank you.”

In the July 2, 2006 story, Palparan was sought for reactions to Pamalakaya’s allegations that a “climate of terror had intensified” in Bulacan and that the group and the party-list group Anakpawis were “often singled out and accused of supporting the NPA.”

“We’re only a few there, not 600,” Palparan had said. He also confirmed that Pamalakaya and Anakpawis leaders and members were being singled out because “they were the ones causing problems there.”

He said these groups had been “intimidating civilians, recruiting for the NPA, seizing fishponds or extorting P50,000 monthly from fishpond owners.”

“Dapat lang [It’s necessary to single out those groups],” Palparan then said.

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

The group accused Palparan of tarnishing its image, stature and reputation as well as “indirectly threatened its officials, organizers and members with ‘grave dangers’ to their lives, security and safety.”

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