by Dr Walden Bello, Amnesty International Philippines’ Most Distinguished Defender of Human Rights Awardee

On October 6, retired army General Jovito Palparan was acquitted on charges of kidnapping, serious illegal detention, and causing serious physical injuries to Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo.

I vehemently condemn this decision by the Malolos RTC. Palparan, dubbed “The Butcher” for his vicious record, has been implicated in the extra-judicial killing and kidnapping of many activists. The Manalo brothers were abducted by Palparan’s men and made to suffer grievous torture and involuntary servitude for more than a year.

What we are seeing is the bastardization of the law, which is supposed to protect against monsters like Palparan, to serve the interests of the butchers. No wonder the Philippines consistently ranks abysmally in assessments of trust of the rule of law. More specifically, this decision by RTC Judge Francisco Felizmenio, who nitpicks at inconsistencies of tesimony of more than a year of torture, enshrines impunity that is afforded to those who commit atrocities against progressives and the Left. It is enabled by as much as it enables the culture of red-tagging and violence against those who dare stand up to the country’s ruling classes.

I call upon the higher courts, including the Supreme Court, to review this gross miscarriage of justice.

As we face the failure of liberal legal institutions, its consistent susceptibility to abuse by the elite, we are reminded that true justice can only happen when the marginalized take the reins of society.#