Staff Sergeant Edgardo Osorio, one of the accused in the disappearance of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, argues that the kidnapping and detention charges against him cannot stick because the victims are missing.
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – One of the soldiers accused in the disappearance of two students of the University of the Philippines (UP) filed a motion for reconsideration to dismiss the charges against him at a Bulacan court today, April 20.
The motion was filed by Staff Sergeant Edgardo Osorio, who is charged along with retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. and Col. Felipe Anotado, for the kidnapping and serious illegal detention of UP students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan and peasant Manuel Meriño at the Malolos Regional Trial Court branch 14.
Today’s hearing for Palparan’s motion for bail was postponed, as prosecution witness Oscar Leuterio was not feeling well.
Bonifacio Alentajan, Osorio’s lawyer, said in the motion that kidnapping charges are filed against “private individuals,” which the accused were not, when the crime took place.
The motion also said that the charges did not include allegations that the two students were deprived of their liberty and that there was “actual locking up with a motive to resort to kidnapping or detention.”
“Who were the two victims of kidnapping? Where are they now? Where are their persons or bodies? These essential elements of the offense were never established,” the motion read.
Alentajan said “the offense charged is service connected” and the Bulacan court has no jurisdiction over the accused.
He cited the Philippine Articles of War, which states that “all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and military discipline, and all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the military service” should be brought for trial before a court martial.
Julian Oliva Jr. of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) and one of the private prosecution lawyers, said the motion for reconsideration raised the same grounds in the previous motions denied by the court.
“These are mere reiteration of past motions,” Oliva told Bulatlat.com.
Erlinda Cadapan, mother of Shelyn, wondered if Osorio’s motion is “actually telling us that abduction is a government policy?”
Osorio, in a hearing in May 2014, said he was fixing his “papers” and “medical clearance” in preparation to leave for Liberia, Africa when the crime took place.
A copy of his passport was presented as evidence, which stated that he left for Liberia on July 13, 2006 and went back to the country on Jan. 27, 2007.
The two UP students, along with farmer Manuel Meriño, were abducted on June 26, 2006 in Hagonoy, Bulacan.
Oliva said the defense camp had failed to present witnesses that would support Osorio’s alibi.
Osorio was identified by witness Wilfredo Ramos Jr. as the soldier who hogtied him and his father when the two UP were abducted at their home during the preliminary investigation at the Department of Justice in August 2011.
Abduction and torture survivor Raymond Manalo had testified that he saw the three victims while they were being kept incommunicado in a military camp in Limay, Bataan.