Palparan to be held in Bulacan jail

Dino Balabo - The Philippine Star

MALOLOS CITY, Philippines – The court yesterday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to present retired Army general Jovito Palparan and commit him to the Bulacan Provincial Jail.

The court order came after the NBI failed to present Palparan a day after he was caught hiding in a dilapidated house in Sta. Mesa, Manila.

An NBI team led by Special Investigator Rodelio Velez presented the Return Warrant of Arrest to Malolos Regional Trial Court Branch 14 Judge Teodora Gonzales.

Velez explained they did not bring Palparan because of threats to his life.

Sources said Gonzales became frustrated by the failure of the NBI to present Palparan. She had to call the NBI provincial office to check out Velez and his team.

Nonetheless, Gonzales issued the order to commit Palparan to the Bulacan jail and tasked Provincial Jail Warden Pepito Plamenco to provide a detention cell for the former general.

Gonzales said the court should have physical jurisdiction over Palparan for his arraignment on Aug. 18.

The former Army general is charged with two counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention in the alleged abduction of UP students Karen Empeño and Sherilyn Cadapan in Hagonoy, Bulacan on June 26, 2006.

After the court issued the arrest warrant in 2011, Palparan went into hiding for over two years until the NBI and military intelligence operatives in Manila caught him.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the two companions of Palparan when he was arrested – Grace Roa del Rosario and Reynaldo Ladao Roa – will be charged with violation of Presidential Decree 1829 for obstruction of apprehension and prosecution of criminal offenders and for harboring Palparan, one of the country’s most wanted.


The military and the NBI met yesterday to discuss security plans for Palparan.

Rommel Vallejo, chief of the NBI’s anti-organized crime division, said they would provide round-the-clock security for Palparan, who is allegedly facing threats from communist rebels.

“He should be secured. No one should come close to him except his lawyers and his nearest kin. That was the instruction to us,” Vallejo said.

“Preparations are underway for his transfer,” he added.

In the meantime, Palparan is under tight security at the NBI main office in Manila where personnel have been placed on high alert.

Only eight people, including family members and lawyers, are allowed to visit the former general.

De Lima tasked the NBI to secure Palparan during the transfer and stay in the provincial jail.

She directed the NBI to make the necessary arrangements to ensure the safety of Palparan.

De Lima believes that Palparan’s fear for his life over threats from groups offended by his previous acts could be valid.

“To be responsible and professional about it, it’s better to verify the threats. It’s common sense that because of his status and personality in relation to progressive and leftist groups, they are really very determined to make him pay,” she said.

Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) chief Maj. Gen. Eduardo Año said the police and the military are coordinating with the NBI to ensure Palparan’s safety.

“Right now, he is in the custody of NBI. What is important is to upgrade the security at the NBI compound,” Año said.

When asked whether Palparan would be placed under military custody, Año said: “That was discussed but that will be in extreme cases. For now, the judge has the authority to decide where he will be committed.”

Armed Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said the military would not provide Palparan legal assistance because he is no longer part of the service.

“Major General Palparan is already retired and we have no jurisdiction over him, so whatever legal remedy he needs, he must get it in his capacity as a civilian,” Zagala said.

“He is retired from active military service and the Armed Forces of the Philippines has no jurisdiction over him,” he added.

Zagala said the two active soldiers also implicated in the case are still detained at Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio.

The accused, identified as Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado Jr. and S/Sgt. Edgardo Osorio, are confined at the Army Custodial Center.

“They are in our custody by virtue of a commitment order by Judge Teodora Gonzalez of Malolos Regional Trial Court Branch 14,” Zagala said.

Zagala cited Executive Order 106, which states that active military officers may be detained at a military detention facility for their safety.

Zagala maintained the two officers are not receiving special treatment.

“The custodial center is the same as what you would find in civilian jails,” he said.

Palparan is idolized by many soldiers for his vigorous campaign against insurgency but is vilified by activists for his supposed involvement in human rights violations.

Security officials previously claimed that no active soldier coddled Palparan while he was a fugitive.

“He has never sought refuge in any military camp,” Año added.

Palparan, called “The Butcher” by militant groups, claimed he wanted to surrender but could not because of the threat on his life.

What further discouraged him from surfacing was the pronouncement by the communist New People’s Army (NPA) that he was a “dead man walking.”

Palparan, who had a P2-million bounty for his arrest, claimed he did not go into hiding because he was guilty but rather because he feared for his safety.

Malacañang confirmed Palparan earlier sent surrender feelers but these were not accepted.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said President Aquino wanted to avoid public outcry over the situation where suspected pork barrel fund scam operator Janet Lim-Napoles went to Malacañang instead of surrendering to the police.

Lacierda, however, said he was not aware exactly of the reasons why the surrender feelers of Palparan were ignored.

Militant groups want Palparan to face charges of human rights violations, including the abduction and disappearance of the two UP students.

Sen. Grace Poe urged witnesses to come out and prove the accusations against Palparan.

“I doubt that Palparan will readily admit responsibility, but perhaps other witnesses or whistle-blowers that were with him in the military can,” Poe said.

“The important thing is he is now under custody and the families of the victims can finally hope for justice,” she said.

Sen. Francis Escudero, for his part, said law enforcement agencies should now double their efforts to arrest other high-profile fugitives following the capture of Palparan. – With Ric Sapnu, Alexis Romero, Ding Cervantes, Aurea Calica, Christina Mendez, Edu Punay, Aie Balagtas See

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