MANILA -- House Deputy Speaker and Quezon Rep. Lorenzo "Erin" Tañada III welcomed the recommendation from the Department of Justice to file charges against retired general Jovito Palparan for the disappearance of two students from the University of the Philippines in 2006.
“This is a turning point in our advocacy for better enforcement of human rights in the country," Tañada said. "The DoJ ruling gives us a clear signal that human rights cases are being taken seriously, and that the past administration's policy of impunity has been abandoned," he added.
Tanada said this should be the start of a consistent and concerted effort on the part of the government to back up its human rights commitments with action.
It is not enough that we claim to recognize human rights principles; the effective prosecution of these violations must follow their exposure and investigation, he said.
Tanada also noted the opportunity to settle the issue of command responsibility once and for all.
"We can only do that with a trial that allows Gen. Palparan to present his side and defend his actions. Let him speak and account for his decisions. From there we will decide whether he has failed in his duties, and set a standard of conduct and liability for all members of the Armed Forces," he said.
Tanada, who chaired the House committee on human rights during the 14th Congress, expressed hope that the resolution of this case will only be the beginning.
"Sheryl and Karen (the UP students who disappeared in 2006) were two of hundreds of victims of human rights violations, and they are each waiting for justice. Surely, we cannot stop here," he added.*PNA
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