MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/25 December) – While the whole nation was being glued to the news on the deaths and destruction caused by Tropical Storm Sendong in Northern Mindanao and parts of the Visayas, some other important events slipped past our attention. They took place while we were looking the other way, and as our minds tried to cope with the gravity of a disaster that can be described as a miniaturized version of the tsunami that hit Japan on March 11 this year.
First, there was the appointment of Mujiv Hataman as caretaker governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Hataman, a former Anak Mindanao representative, was sworn into office on December 19 by President Aquino and assumed his post on December 22. Since the whole thing occurred when the people were focusing their energies on how to help the victims of Sendong in their own humble ways, his assumption would appear to be a political sleight of hand in
that it still faces a legal obstacle: the still unresolved motion for reconsideration on the Supreme Court’s ruling that Republic Act 10153 is constitutional.
RA 10153 provides for the postponement of the ARMM elections scheduled in August this year to May 2013, and the appointment of officers-in-charge in lieu of officials whose terms of office had expired in September. Malacanang thinks that despite the absence of a final decision on the constitutionality of the law it can already install its handpicked officials.
Another thing that has been barely noticed is the ongoing manhunt for retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. who has refused to surrender to face trial for the kidnapping of University of the Philippines students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, in June 2006.
Then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo lauded Palparan for his unrelenting campaign against suspected members of the communist underground. But for his critics, he was “Berdugo” (Butcher) for leaving a trail of blood in his areas of assignment. Militant groups have accused him of masterminding the killings and abductions of hundreds of activists during the Arroyo administration. With his patron now out of power and hounded by the shadows of her past misdeeds, the militants are now moving heaven and earth to have him prosecuted.
However, those who want Palparan arrested may not get their wish before the Christmas season ends or even in the next few months. As a former high-ranking officer, he has many friends in the military who can give him protection or, worse, facilitate his escape to another country. If the latter option is not possible, he would just move from one refuge to another to avoid detection.
In other words, he’s too smart to be easily spotted and caught. As a hunter, he was coldblooded and never cared about what the media and other sectors said. He always believed – and most likely, continues to believe – he was doing the right thing for the country. As the hunted who knows the ways of the hunter for being one himself at some point in his life, he is no easy prey. He knows the importance of being a step ahead or more.
Still, Palparan has to realize that the odds are no longer stacked in his favor. Flight implies guilt. The best option is to give up and face the charges, except if he doesn’t mind living forever the life of the hunted. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at [email protected])