“A criminal like Palparan does not deserve any form of VIP treatment.” – Concepcion Empeño
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – The families of the two disappeared students of the University of the Philippines, through the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, filed a Petition for Certiorari before the Court of Appeals on Nov. 20 to question the order of the Malolos court that ruled the transfer of retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan from Bulacan Provincial Jail to the Philippine Army Custodial Center in Taguig City.
Palparan, dubbed as “the butcher,” was arrested on the wee hours of Aug. 12, after more than two years of hiding. He is charged with kidnapping and serious illegal detention of Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, and peasant Manuel Meriño who were abducted in Hagonoy, Bulacan more than eight years ago and are still missing.
On Sept. 15, Judge Teodora Gonzales of the Malolos Regional Trial Court Branch 14 issued an order granting the petition of Palparan to be transferred to a military detention facility. Their families filed a motion for reconsideration but Judge Gonzales did not act on it as state prosecutors did not give their conformity.
Edre Olalia, secretary general of the NUPL, said that Palparan invoked “self-serving, unsubstantiated, highly speculative and exaggerated threats against his life” to be transferred away from the rigors and limitations of an ordinary civilian jail.
“Never mind that the security risks and expenses of the government actually increase with the distance between the detention facility where a high-profile inmate is committed and the court where he is required to appear,” Olalia said. “Never mind that the provincial jail, a civil jail, is structurally sound and sufficient to ensure the security of the other detainees.”
In the petition, private prosecutors cited that as a general rule, military law jurisdiction cease upon discharge from service.
Families argued that Palparan could be detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), as it is mandated for high profile and high-risk prisoners. The BJMP, they added, has institutionalized policies and issued its “Manual on the Handling of High-Risk and High-Profile Inmates.”
The petition also stipulated that the direct supervision of public prosecutors over private complainants are only as far as prosecution would go, such as the presentation of evidence and how the trial would go.
But in ancilliary issues such as the custody of the accused, petitioners argued that private prosecutors may “take a divergent or nuanced position to that of the public prosecutor, and the authority of control and supervision over the private prosecutor cannot be used by the accused respondent Palparan nor, we respectfully but firmly submit, by the respondent judge, to countermand or frustrate it.”
Petitioners argued that the families may be “allowed to ventilate their positions because the intervention of the private offended party is not a matter of tolerance, but a matter of right.”
And as such, they argued, that the written conformity of the public prosecutors “is not indispensable for the court to consider the remedies sought.”
Olalia added that Palparan’s transfer would set a bad precedent and would send an “outrageous message that it is perfectly acceptable for accused human rights violators to enjoy special treatment under a double standard of justice.”
“It amounts purely to gross injustice and partiality against the private complainants, the other victims, and the people,” the petition said.
In an interview with Bulatlat.com, Concepcion Empeno, mother of Karen, said they are hoping that the Court of Appeals would give a positive response on their petition.