Court of Appeals clears general in case of missing leftist

Last updated 03:09pm (Mla time) 07/01/2007

MANILA–The Court of Appeals has cleared a controversial army general linked to a spate of political killings over a suit involving the disappearance of a senior leftist.


In a 14-page decision promulgated on June 19 but obtained by the press only on Sunday, the Court of Appeals said it found no merit in the suit filed by relatives of Leopoldo Ancheta who was allegedly abducted by military intelligence.


Ancheta was a member of the National Democratic Front, the political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.


His wife Carmen and other relatives had charged that Major General Jovito Palparan had custody of him and asked the courts to have the military produce him.


But the court said there was no evidence linking the military to the case.


“There is not even a scintilla of evidence which could link the respondents to the mysterious disappearance of Ancheta,” it said.


While it said it was moved by the family’s “agony and anguish”, the court stressed its hands were tied unless there was stronger evidence to prove that Ancheta was taken by the military.


Prior to his alleged abduction, Ancheta had told his wife he was in danger. In June last year, he failed to show up at an agreed rendezvous with his wife, prompting her to seek the assistance of the local human rights groups Karapatan. She later asked the court to compel Palparan to produce her husband.


Palparan however has since retired although he remains a controversial figure and maintains ties with the military establishment.


Leftist organizations dubbed him the “butcher” for leading the military’s anti-insurgency campaign that rights groups said often targetted leftist organizations and their members.


A special government commission which investigated a spate of political killings said Palparan “left a trail of blood or bodies in his wake wherever he was assigned.”


But the findings of the Melo Commission inquiry at the same time said there was only “circumstantial evidence” linking the general to the killings.


Palparan, who is known to be close to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was not immediately available for comment.


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