MANILA - A Catholic priest who was allegedly included in the hit list of retired Major General Jovito Palparan has expressed willingness to testify on the alleged human rights violations committed by Palparan during the Arroyo administration.
Fr. Edwin Gariguez, executive director of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines - National Secretariat for Social Action Justice and Peace (CBCP-NASSA), said he was still a part-time staff of Mangyan Mission when Palparan was commander of the 204th Brigade assigned in Mindoro and Romblon from May 2001 to April 2003.
He said Palparan "lumped together all those in progressive movements, even people from the church doing justice advocacy for the poor, and they were targeted for assassination."
"They were tagged as dissident terrorist in Palparan's list and his list even included me. That's why I needed to leave the diocese for a while, while Palparan was there," Gariguez said in a CBCPNews report.
The priest said his 40th birthday was marked by an "unforgettable period of brutal liquidation of leaders of progressive movements" in Mindoro.
He said he used to document all the extrajudicial killings in Mindoro, where most of the victims were tortured mercilessly.
He said suspected rebel sympathizers were not just killed but tortured, decapitated, or summarily executed. In a number of cases, the sympathizers had their ears and tongue chopped off or eyes plucked out.
"I worked for the Mangyan Mission during that time and I was the executive director for the Church-based farmers' apostolate, Peasant Empowerment and Advocacy Network [Peasant-Net], and we were pursuing agrarian reform program in Mindoro. I led the anti-mining campaign also, so most of the time we have mobilizations or rallies. Palparan thought those people expressed their sentiments are already communists," Gariguez said.
"I documented the extrajudicial killings in Mindoro and submitted them to AFP. I can make the files available and I can testify if the documents can be found to support the crime of Palparan," he added.
Palparan, who is accused in the 2006 disappearance of UP students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, was arrested in Sta. Mesa, Manila Tuesday.