EDITORIAL - Special convict
(The Philippine Star) - September 28, 2018 - 12:00am

In the age of smart phones and the Internet, how hard is it to clarify a court order? The Philippine Army is citing conflicting orders from two judges of the Malolos Regional Trial Court in Bulacan in holding on to someone who seems to be one of the military’s favorite sons, retired major general Jovito Palparan Jr.

It’s been over a week since the former Army officer and party-list congressman was sentenced by the Malolos court to life in prison for the 2006 kidnapping and serious illegal detention of University of the Philippines students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño. Together with the decision, RTC Branch 15 Judge Alexander Tamayo issued an order committing Palparan to the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa.

Until yesterday, however, Palparan remained detained at the Philippine Army custodial center at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig. Army officials say the Malolos RTC Branch 19 had ordered Palparan to remain in military custody because he still faces a separate case for illegal detention.

Palparan’s life term may be over by the time Branch 19 resolves that separate case. Will he remain in Army custody until then? How long will it take to clarify the two court orders? There are many convicts already serving their terms at the National Penitentiary while still on trial for other cases. They are simply transported to the courts from the NBP during hearings.

Palparan has denied involvement in the detention, torture and disappearance of Cadapan and Empeño, who were suspected by the military to be communist sympathizers. He is seen to represent a segment of the military that believes playing nice is a luxury government forces cannot afford in counterinsurgency.

But he has been convicted of a serious offense, and the military must turn him over ASAP to the New Bilibid Prison so he can start serving his sentence. There are two court orders that shouldn’t take forever to clarify, and the military must not lose time securing that clarification.

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