SF CHRP (San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines) is a San Francisco based human rights advocacy group. Latest news and views on human rights in the Philippines.
Karapatan sent out a news alert regarding the co-accused of wanted (and still in hiding) general Jovito Palparan for the kidnapping of University of the Philippines students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan and farmer Manuel Merino. In order to discount the credible first-hand account of witness Wilfred Ramos (who was also in illegal custody at an AFP military camp) who saw the two students at the military camp the defense lawyers are trying to use his background as a human rights defender against him.
“The lawyer of Sgt. Edgardo Osorio, failing to discredit at yesterday’s hearing the testimony of witness Wilfredo Ramos, tried to turn the table around by saying that the witness is testifying only because he is a member of Karapatan. He sounded so much like Palparan, who resorts to blaming the victims of human rights violations to justify the atrocities he committed against them,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.
Atty. Jose Cruz called the witness “biased” after Ramos recounted what he saw when the two UP students, Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, along with farmer Manuel Merino, were abducted on June 26, 2006 in Bgy. San Miguel , Hagonoy, Bulacan. Ramos and his father were hogtied and threatened in the incident. Ramos, who was only 14 years old at that time of the abduction, identified Osorio as one of those who abducted the students and Merino, when the latter accompanied Gen. Palparan during the preliminary investigation at the Department of Justice.
“The issue is not whether Ramos is a member of Karapatan or not. The fact is, Ramos was able to stand by and was consistent with his earlier testimonies, as well as, what was written in his affidavit while he was being cross-examined by Atty. Cruz. He was firm and calm, despite the harrowing experience he and his family encountered. His testimony bolsters the charges against Osorio, Palparan and the others,” Palabay said.
During the hearing, Ramos responded to Atty. Cruz’s insinuations by saying “Kahit hindi po ako miyembro ng Karapatan, gagawin ko pa rin po ito para mabigyan ng katarungan ang nangyari kay Sherlyn at Karen, at mga biktima ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao.”
Palabay added that, “it is no use for Palparan, et al to attempt to discredit the witnesses to the kidnapping and serious illegal detention case because they speak the truth, they have nothing to hide and they want justice not only for Karen and Sherlyn, but also for themselves and their families who are continuously violated by the military. They should instead face the court and tell the truth, especially on the whereabouts of Palparan.”