For the the mothers of the disappeared, the silliest question was when the defense lawyer asked if Raymond Manalo has photos or videos of himself, along with the two UP students, to prove his statements.
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – For the second time, key witness Raymond Manalo positively identified retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan as his testimony for the bail proceedings ends today, Apr. 13.
“Eto po, o,” Manalo said while pointing at the retired general.
The hearing was a continuation of the cross-examination of Manalo, the key witness in the enforced disappearance of University of the Philippines student Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan.
Maria Kristina Conti, the private counsel who conducted the re-direct-examination, told Bulatlat.com it was important to point out that Manalo’s identification of Palparan is “reliable, consistent and unshakeable.”
In his cross-examination, Palparan’s counsel Diosab Formilleza asked several questions on where he executed his affidavits, who typed the judicial affidavit, among others.
Formilleza also attempted to make Manalo come up with exact dates on when and which military camps they were brought to. But Judge Teodora Gonzales of the Bulacan Regional Trial Court Branch 1 told him that Manalo need not come up with the exact dates.
“What is important is the end point, when he escaped,” she said.
Formilleza said if there was, in any way, anything that obstructs between him and Palparan during their meeting in a basketball court in Sapang village, San Miguel, Bulacan in June 2006. Manalo said there was none and that the general himself was right in front of him.
Gonzales, upon the objection of another private counsel Julian Oliva Jr., did not allow the defense to present the sketch of the said basketball court as it was not made by the witness. She then asked the lawyer if he has been at the court, to which Formilleza said “yes” and even confirmed that the court does, in fact, exists.
There were times when it took Formilleza several minutes before asking the next question. Gonzales told him to “prepare” for cross examinations so it would not waste time.
Palparan, for his part, could be seen standing up, “coaching” Formilleza, according to Oliva. This was later on struck from the records and replaced with “conferring.” Judge Gonzales told Palparan not to stand up and to wait for his lawyer to approach him.
Abner Torres, lawyer of another suspect, Col. Felipe Anotado, was also given an opportunity to ask several questions, including clarifications on how Manalo identified his client. The witness said he saw the accused Anotado thrice in a camp in Limay, Bataan, and in the proceedings at the Court of Appeals, the Department of Justice and at the present court.
Manalo said that he was able to identify Anotado even if he was wearing civilian clothes during the Court of Appeals proceedings in 2007. He also pointed out that it was him who identified Anotado and that he was not egged on by his lawyers.
“I was the one who pointed at Anotado,” he said.
After the hearing, the mothers of the two UP students, expressed their dismay on the seeming lack of preparation of the defense counsel, saying that it was a waste of time.
But for the the mothers of the disappeared, the silliest question was when Formilleza asked if Manalo has photos or videos of himself, along with the two UP students, to prove his statements.
This provoked sniggers in the courtroom, with some commenting if the lawyer was asking if the victims took a “groupie” or “selfie”.
Manalo said he has none.
Formilleza appeared exhausted but continued, raking his files for more questions. Later, he asked why Manalo executed several affidavits. Oliva later on explained that these affidavits were used in various court proceedings, from the Court of Appeals to the present regional trial court.
Cadapan, during the hearing, quipped, “maybe they should consider asking Raymond what is the color of Palparan’s underwear when they met?”
“If I am his professor, I would flunk him,” Empeno, a principal in an elementary school in Masinloc, Zambales, said.
Formilleza, who was repeatedly receiving objections from Oliva, then made a manifestation on why the private counsels are leading the prosecution team. Public prosecutor Erwin Maraya said the private counsels are under their direct supervision, “but I can butt in anytime.”
After the hearing, Edre Olalia, one of the private counsels, sarcastically thanked the defense counsels for helping the prosecution build the case against the accused.
‘Elephant in the room’
Just before the cross-examination, Olalia, who is also secretary general of the. National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, said “there is an elephant in the room,” referring to the presence of the military inside a civilian court room. He pointed out that there are five or six soldiers standing like a cocoon around the accused.
During the hearing, Palparan was joined by Anotado inside the security wall of soldiers.
Olalia asked if the security around Palparan is not an overkill, as such does not happen even during the hearing of the infamous Ampatuan massacre. He then stood up and offered his own seat to the soldiers.
“Don’t be shy,” he quipped at the soldiers.
But the soldiers did not budge. Gonzales, for her part, initially agreed to grant Olalia’s motion but later appeared to have dismissed the soldiers’ defiance and said that the court proceeding is about to start.