By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MALOLOS, Bulacan – Quiet sobs were heard during the hearing here in Malolos as the mothers of disappeared university students hugged each other – their tears were both in jubilation over the conviction of retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan and two other military officials and the longing for their missing daughters.
Today, on Sept. 17, Palparan, Col. Felipe Anotado, and Staff Sgt. Edgardo Osorio were found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of kidnapping and serious illegal detention of Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan.
The two students were forcibly abducted along with farmer Manuel Merino back in June 26, 2006. Their family and friends have been looking for them since.
Palparan is the highest military official ever to be indicted and convicted for a human rights violation.
“I am very happy. But I am sad at the same time. I am still looking for my daughter,” Erlinda Cadapan told reporters outside the court room.
Eyewitnesses, including farmer Raymond Manalo, have pointed to Palparan and his men as those behind the abduction and torture of Karen and Sherlyn.
“Viewed in its totality, the witnesses’ positive identification of the three accused and their respective participations and roles in the commission of the crimes charges against them which, after close analysis, show their connections with each other and the common design aimed towards the attainment of the same unlawful purpose, more than satisfies the judicial mind and conscience,” Judge Alexander Tamayo said in his 31-page decision.
Tamayo added that the denial and pretension of the accused that they had nothing to do with the abduction “lose credence in the face of their positice identification by the prosecution witness.”
The Bulacan court has already issued a commitment order against Palparan, Anotado, and Osorio. They are expected to be transferred to the National Bilibid Prison today. (Bulatlat.com)