“I am in tears. I hope that justice would be served and that they would now surface Karen and Sherlyn.” Connie Empeño, mother of disappeared UP student Karen
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — Eight years since their enforced disappearance and three years since a Bulacan local court issued a warrant of arrest, retired General Jovito Palparan, accused in the kidnapping of the University of the Philippines students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, was finally arrested early morning of Aug. 12.
“There is a sense of relief now that Palparan has been arrested and that soon he will be facing the charges we filed against him. But we are also not happy because we have yet to see our daughters Karen and Sherlyn. Justice is yet to be served, too, for other victims of enforced disappearances,” Linda Cadapan, mother of missing student Sherlyn, told Bulatlat.com.
In a report, Palparan was arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation – Anti-Organized Crime Division and the Armed Forces’ Naval Intelligence Group after he was seen at around 3 a.m. in Sta. Mesa, Manila.
Palparan was brought to the NBI an hour later as authorities await the commitment order of the Bulacan local court, which has jurisdiction over him, Justice secretary Leila de Lima said in television interview.
Along with Palparan are two companions who also surrendered to authorities.
Karen and Sherlyn, along with farmer Manuel Merino, were abducted in Hagonoy Bulacan on June 26, 2006.
Raymond Manalo, one of the witnesses, said he met the two UP students while he and his brother Reynaldo were also held in captivity by the military. He narrated in a hearing at Bulacan Regional Trial Court Branch 14 how the military tortured the two students.
The court hearing has been ongoing for more than two years now but the military has been reportedly delaying the hearings by failing to present their witnesses.
“I expect that he would be made to pay for the many sins he committed against the people,” Mrs. Cadapan said, adding that they have strong evidence against Palparan.
No special treatment
Connie Empeño, mother of Karen, told Bulatlat.com that no special treatment should be given to Palparan.
“I can almost foresee that he would appeal for house or hospital arrest. But he deserves to be sent to prison along with other criminals whom he used to lead,” Mrs. Empeño said.
Should he seek hospital arrest, Mrs. Cadapan quipped, “he does not look sick. He looks healthy and seems to have gained weight.”
In a statement, youth group Anakbayan said there should be no special treatment and cover up for Palparan.
“Other military officials, retired or in active service, should also be arrested and held accountable. Military government officials who helped Palparan elude arrest should also be charged,” Vencer Crisostomo, chairperson of Anakbayan, said.
Lawyer Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, one of the counsels of the mothers of the missing students, said Palparan should be “treated no different from any other in jail and made to wait out the time until judgment day.”
Surface Karen and She
“I am in tears. I hope that justice would be served and that they would now surface Karen and Sherlyn,” Mrs. Empeño said.
Olalia said that “though long in coming, it is never too late for justice to catch up. Accountability has no prescriptive period.”
“What happens thereafter will come under close scrutiny, here and abroad. Palparan must face the music and the full wrath of the Furies for all the crimes credibly imputed to him – extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrests, and other gross human rights violations, all done without compunction and aggravated by his signature braggadocio,” he said.
Olalia said prior to Palparan’s arrest, kin and human rights defenders were “recently mulling to file another case for violation of anti-disappearance law” against the fugitive general.
Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon, in a statement, said the arrest of Palparan is not the end in fight against impunity.
Ridon said that while Palparan has been arrested, “the primordial question is, are we anywhere near finding Karen and She? It has been eight years and they are still missing.”
Palparan’s arrest, he added, would also not necessarily mean that he would be prosecuted accordingly.
“We have seen how this administration played soft on pork scam masterminds Janet Napoles and Senators Enrile, Estrada and Revilla. We sincerely hope that such special treatment would not be accorded the ex-general. Palparan should rot in jail — he should be in prison until the end of time,” Ridon said.