Mothers of missing UP students assail Palparan’s ‘delaying tactics’

“This is just one of his delaying tactics. He does not want to be convicted. He wants to be spared from the conditions of a regular jail.”– Mrs. Concepcion Empeño, on Jovito Palparan Jr’s motion for reconsideration seeking transfer to a military jail in Metro Manila

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat.com

MALOLOS, Bulacan – The mothers of the missing students of the University of the Philippines assailed the seeming delaying tactics of retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan at his pre-trial hearing Sept. 1.

“This is just one of his delaying tactics. He does not want to be convicted. He wants to be spared from the conditions of a regular jail,” Mrs. Concepcion Empeño told Bulatlat.com after the hearing.

The pre-trial was reset to Sept. 8 to give way to the motion for reconsideration filed by Palparan to be transferred to either the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) inside Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City or to the Philippine Army Custodial Center in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City.

“He is already retired. He is no longer in ‘public service.’ Why should he be accorded such privileges?” Mrs. Empeño said.

Gen. Palparan pensive as he awaits arraignment last Sept. 1 (Photo by J. Ellao / Bulatlat.com)
Gen. Palparan pensive as he awaits arraignment (Photo by J. Ellao / Bulatlat.com)

Palparan was arrested in the wee hours of Aug. 12 in a house in Sta. Mesa, Manila by virtue of a standing three-year-old warrant in relation to the enforced disappearance of Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan.

Karen and Sherlyn, along with farmer Manuel Merino, were abducted in Hagonoy, Bulacan on June 26, 2006.

Rehashed arguments

In his motion for reconsideration, Palparan, through his lawyer Narzal Mallares, asked Judge Teodora Gonzales of the Malolos Regional Trial Court Branch 14 to be transferred to either police or military detention center.

Lawyer Jun Oliva, one of the private prosecutors of the victims’ kin, noted during the hearing that the said motion is a rehash of Palparan’s petition filed before the Court of Appeals in 2012, seeking to stop the proceedings at the Bulacan regional trial court. Oliva said the motion only changed the prayer – adding the transfer of detention – but raised the same grounds, which was already junked by the Court of Appeals in 2012.

He also found it inconsistent that Palparan would want to be transferred to the PNP Custodial Center when it is of public knowledge that there are suspected high-ranking officials of the New People’s Army detained there.

Mallares, after conferring with Palparan, decided to withdraw PNP Custodial Center from their prayer and said that Palparan would prefer detention either at the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or at the Philippine Army Custodial Center, where the two other co-accused are detained.

“Demanding ha?” one of the protesters quipped when Oliva spoke before the rally, updating them on what happened inside the courtroom.

Lawyer Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, told the media after the hearing that should the court allow his transfer to a military detention center then Palparan “would just be coming home.”

Olalia reminded the military to back off and not stand in the way as it is not for them to decide where Palparan should be detained.

The NUPL, in a statement, later on described Palparan’s defense strategy as “aimless dribbling” and “pointless shooting” as his lawyers harped on “rehashed arguments and repackaged junked legal motions.”

Judge Gonzales, for her part, said she would await the corresponding response of concerned state security forces regarding Palparan’s transfer. She noted that her decision would not only affect Palparan but also other detainees in the Bulacan Provincial Jail who might also be at risk due to the supposed threats that Palparan is facing.

Anotado and Osorio

During the hearing, Abner Torres, lawyer of Palparan’s co-accused Col. Felipe Anotado and M/Sgt Osorio said they would file a petition before the Malolos court to request that the decision on the two be rendered together with Palparan’s.

On Aug. 18, Judge Gonzales ordered the resting of the presentation of evidence for Anotado and Osorio. The two, she said, were given four opportunities but failed to present their witnesses.

Oliva said they have yet to look into the repercussions of the said motion if such would be submitted before the court.

Tight security

The human rights group Desaparecidos, in a statement, scored what they deemed as an overkill in securing Palparan.

“Protect from whom? From us who are victims of The Butcher? We carry no guns, but only the pictures of our missing or killed loved ones,” Santos said. “The government is obviously protecting this criminal,” said Aya Santos, secretary general of Desaparecidos.

Santos said many human rights defenders who have been monitoring the case were prevented from going inside the courtroom to accommodate Palparan’s security.

Inside the courtroom, Palparan could hardly be seen because of at least three layers of men securing him. About 20 members of the Provincial Jail Guards and the National Bureau of Investigation were inside the courtroom to secure Palparan. Some were in civilian clothes, wearing shorts and slippers.

All the security men were armed, two of them with high-powered rifles.

Outside the court, more than 100 police were deployed. A fire truck was also positioned in front of the Bulacan Provincial Jail, which was right behind the Regional Trial Court. After the hearing, Palparan, in handcuffs and wearing a kevlar helmet, was rushed into a bullet-proof vehicle, which would bring him back to his jail cell, just a few meters away.

Mrs. Erlinda Cadapan, mother of Sherlyn, said the tight security measures for Palparan shows the kind of system in the country.

“We are coddling the accused who has done bad things to the people,” Mrs. Cadapan said.

In a statement, the NUPL described Palparan’s petition to be transferred to a different detention cell as “detention-shopping.”

“The audacity to make flippant choices as to where he wants to be detained betrays the obsessive desire to come home to a conniving military,” the lawyers’ group said. ()

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