“By June next year, it would be the eighth year since Sherlyn disappeared. I am looking for my daughter. Her life is at stake here. This should be urgent.” – Mrs. Erlinda Cadapan
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — Two Army soldiers, co-accused of retired Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. on the kidnapping case failed for the second time to present their witnesses in court, Nov. 11.
Palparan, along with Col. Felipe Anotado and Staff Sgt. Edgar Osorio and Master Sgt. Rizal Hilario have been charged with kidnapping in connection with the disappearance of Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, students of the University of the Philippines (UP) since June 26, 2006. Anotado and Osorio surrendered to the authorities after the issuance of warrants of arrest in December 2011 while Palparan and Hilario remain at large.
In an interview with Bulatlat.com, lawyer Julian Oliva Jr., counsel of the families, said that although Anotado and Osorio attended the hearing at the Malolos Regional Trial Court Branch 14, both Army officers have not submitted their judicial affidavits five days before the hearing, a requirement before they can testify in court.
“Their [Anotado and Osorio’s] counsels said they have yet to get certification from the superiors of the two officers regarding the previous assignments,” Oliva, also chairman of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL)-National Capital Region, said.
Oliva said Judge Teodora Gonzales of the Malolos Regional Trial Court Branch 14 granted their plea to waive the right of the accused to present evidence if, for the third time, the defense would fail to produce witnesses.
Jose M. Cruz, lawyer of Staff Sgt. Edgar Osorio, and Abner M. Torres, lawyer of Col. Felipe Anotado asked the court to send subpoenas
to at least eight of their alleged witnesses.
In a statement, Lorena Santos, secretary general of the Families of Desaparecidos for Justice said, “The military must be having a hard time producing a person to pose as witness and lie in court.” “If the respondents have a witness, we expect him or her to either do a Janet Napoles saying, ‘I don’t know’ and ‘I invoke my right against self-incrimination’ or plainly lie and invent a whole different story to support the military’s claim.” Santos said.
Sherlyn’s mother, Erlinda Cadapan, expressed frustration with the snail-paced trial.
“I think the military is delaying the case,” Cadapan said in an interview with Bulatlat.com. “What else can I do but to wait and follow the process.”
The next hearing was set January 13 next year. From that day until June 9, the respondents are expected to present their witnesses.
“By June next year, it would be the eighth year since Sherlyn disappeared,” Mrs. Cadapan said. “I am looking for my daughter. Her life is at stake here. This should be urgent.”
“The disappeared is not the only one suffering but the whole family. We are also lost, searching for justice that remains elusive,” Mrs. Cadapan said.
Mrs. Cadapan added, “And what about Palparan? Are they [the authorities] really looking for him?”
It has been almost two years since the local court issued the warrant of arrest against Palparan, considered to be the primary suspect in the case.
Santos said, “It is such a shame that a criminal like Palparan cannot be located and arrested by the BS Aquino administration. It is predictable that a criminal will try to hide and run from persecution. But, a government that fails to arrest a criminal for a long time is unjustifiable.”