Palparan wants to stay under NBI custody

Dino Balabo - The Philippine Star

MALOLOS CITY, Philippines – Retired Army general Jovito Palparan does not want to be detained at the Bulacan Provincial Jail, citing possible threats.

Palparan’s lawyer Narzal Mallares made this appeal yesterday in filing a motion before the Malolos Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 14 to reconsider the order to detain the former general at the provincial jail.

Mallares asked the court to keep Palparan under the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Manila.

The court on Wednesday ordered the NBI to present Palparan and commit him to the provincial jail of Bulacan.

The former Army general is charged with two counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention in connection with 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 caught him early Tuesday hiding in a dilapidated house in Manila.

The NBI cited security concerns in presenting Palparan to the court.

Arrangements were being made by the NBI yesterday to transport Palparan to the court in Bulacan.

Shortly after his arrest on Tuesday, Palparan revealed several threats on his life, including from the communist New People’s Army (NPA), which forced him to go into hiding.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima ordered the NBI to make security preparations for Palparan.

Officials said the police and military are coordinating with the NBI to ensure Palparan’s safety.

Mallares argued it would be safer for Palparan to stay at the NBI rather than in the provincial jail.

Mallares also serves as counsel for Palparan’s co-accused, Army Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado and Staff Sgt. Edgardo Osorio.

Private prosecutor Edre Olalia, however, opposed the motion and said Palparan should still be presented personally to the court, and the question on where he would be safely detained could be decided later.

Olalia said the law mandates the accused must be detained in detention facility nearest to the court.

Olalia, counsel for Erlinda Cadapan, the mother of one of the two missing UP students, said the police and the NBI in Bulacan are capable of securing Palparan.

Olalia added that detaining Palparan in the Bulacan Provincial Jail would also erase public perception that he is getting special treatment.

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.

He was so successful in his anti-insurgency campaign that leftist groups and militants branded him as “The Butcher.”

Military officers and enlisted personnel sympathetic to Palparan called on his custodians to ensure his safety.

In a gathering yesterday, the group also expressed their apprehension over the possible transfer of Palparan to the Bulacan Provincial Jail where they feared his safety would be put in jeopardy.

“We don’t want to see him dead at the hands of the NPAs because if that happens, we the silent majority in the military will also be forced to do something in return. There would be bloodshed again,” warned a middle-grade officer, speaking on behalf of the group.

They said Palparan was only following orders when he went all-out in his campaign against the communist rebels as Army commander in Mindoro, Samar and in Central Luzon.

“Ensure his safety for him to stand trial. If indeed he has done something wrong, let him suffer the consequences of his action but don’t allow other hands to touch him while in your detention,” the officer said, referring to the NBI that has taken custody over Palparan.

No more ‘butchers’

Two days after Palparan was arrested, President Aquino said there are no more butchers in the military and even described the Armed Forces as a “true partner of the Filipino nation.”

Aquino said the military, whose image has been tainted by allegations of human rights violations, has gained the respect and admiration of the public.

“It can’t be denied: The face of your government is now very different and the face of your armed forces is also very different,” the President said during the distribution of rifles to soldiers yesterday in Camp Aguinaldo.

“We can also say that before, your ranks were feared as butchers. Now, you are respected and trusted as true partners of the Filipino nation,” he added.

Aquino said soldiers provide assistance to the people in times of disasters and during dangerous situations.

“You are the ones ensuring that our people can sleep sound in their communities. You also proved that when the Filipino nation is at our side, nothing is impossible,” he said.

Aquino said the arrest of Palparan would allow the former general to undergo due process.

“On Tuesday morning, one of the most wanted in the Philippines was arrested. Now, he will go through the proper and fair process so he can respond to the allegations of abuse against him,” he said.  

Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr., however, belied claims the human rights abuses attributed to Palparan is being carried out by some military officers.

Catapang maintained the military does not condone abusive practices.

“My marching order during the International Humanitarian Law day is defeat the enemies of the state without violating human rights or collateral damage,” he said.

The human rights group Karapatan branded three military officers assigned in Mindanao as “Palparan wannabees.”

Hanimay Suazo, spokesperson of Karapatan Southern Mindanao, said Lt. Col. Jake Obligado, Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visaya and Maj. Gen. Eduardo Año are likely to employ Palparan’s style.

Obligado is assigned at the Army’s 10th Infantry Division based in Davao while Visaya is chief of the 4th Infantry Division in Cagayan de Oro.

Año, one of the officers credited for the arrest of Palparan, is the chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the 10th Infantry Division.

“They are just doing their job and then they never committed human rights violations,” Catapang said.

“They are entirely different from General Palparan,” he added. – With Jaime Laude, Alexis Romero, Edu Punay, Ric Sapnu


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