Palparan sleepless in Bulacan

Dino Balabo - The Philippine Star

MALOLOS CITY, Philippines – On his first night as a detainee in the province that was once part of his military command, retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan got only two hours of sleep.

Yesterday, however, Palparan said he now felt safe and secure at the Bulacan Provincial Jail.

Palparan, branded as “The Butcher” by militant groups, said threats to his life remained in a jail congested with over 3,000 inmates.

In his first media interview since being turned over to the jail, Palparan said he slept only about two hours on his first night.

He said hitmen from the communist New People’s Army (NPA) could infiltrate the inmates.

The NPA wanted the former general liquidated and described him as a “dead man walking.” He said this was the reason why he went into hiding.

Palparan said he was still getting used to being a detainee. “So far, it’s OK,” he said.

He was welcomed by his cellmate Edgardo Francisco, at 77 the oldest detainee in the provincial jail, who urged Palparan to read the Bible.

“He is OK, and he is chatty,” Francisco said of his cellmate.

Palparan said he was disappointed over developments in court on Monday during his arraignment.

He said that they were not given enough time to explain their motion.

“I think the judge made the decision in a hurry to have me detained at the provincial jail,” Palparan said.

Palparan though is thankful to be detained here because the jail is properly managed despite congestion.

With regards to militants who tried and nearly succeeded in hitting him on Monday, Palparan said he never felt it.

He said agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) escorting him to the courtroom might have been hit by the angry protesters.

Palparan also said they will file a petition before the Supreme Court for the transfer of venue of the trial from Bulacan to Quezon City.

“I will win this case in an impartial venue,” he said.

Palparan is charged with two counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention in connection with the alleged abduction of University of the Philippines students Karen Empeño and Sherilyn Cadapan in Hagonoy, Bulacan on June 26, 2006.

The court entered a not guilty plea for him on Monday after he refused to enter a plea.

He was later committed to the provincial jail amidst heavy security.

The military, for its part, said they are willing to take Palparan into custody, only if he wanted to and would file the petition to the court.

“We are not asking the court. It should be General Palparan, through his lawyer, that must ask the court for his transfer of detention,” Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) chief Maj. Gen. Eduardo Año said.

If the court grants the petition, Año said they are willing to accommodate Palparan and ensure his safety during the trial.

A group of middle and junior grade officers called on authorities to enforce stricter security measures at the Bulacan provincial jail.

“While we are happy that he is no longer a fugitive from the law, we are also concerned over his safety while in detention,” said an Army officer.

He revealed at least five suspected NPA rebels are currently detained at the provincial jail along with Palparan. – Jaime Laude, Christina Mendez

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