Soldiers turned off the light and then kicked him, causing his blindfold to be removed. When the light was turned on again, he finally saw “Lolo,” whom he later identified as Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan.
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – Another witness on the disappearance of two students of the University of the Philippines positively identified retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan as among those behind the abduction.
“He is ‘lolo,’ (grandfather),” Oscar Leuterio said, pointing at Palparan in the hearing at the Malolos Regional Trial Court today, Apr. 27.
Leuterio was abducted by paramiltary and suspected military agents on April 17, 2006. He was a security guard working for the Iron Ore Mining Corporation at Camaching village in Doña Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan for nearly a year when he was abducted.
Leuterio related that at least 30 armed men, along with five men in civilian clothes, indiscriminately fired at the mining company, while their manager Bernabe Mendiola was handing out the workers’ salaries.
During the hearing, Leuterio said he was not able to identify the armed men. But he said he was able to identify the civilian guides as Bitoy, Aladin, Marlon Galope at Alvin Pastrana. He said they are members of CAFGU assigned in their area.
Leuterio said they were made to lie on the ground, along with Mendiola and co-workers spouses Virgilio and Teresa Calilap. He said he was tortured and interrogated about New People’s Army rebels.
In his testimony, he said he was brought to Fort Magsaysay on April 18, 2006, where he was detained in a small cell. This was also the time that he met the Manalo brothers, who were detained in a nearby cell.
On June 27, 2006, at around 2 a.m., he said he saw his friend ‘Em-em’ along with two girls, whom he described as a “tall girl with protruding front teeth” and another who was “chubby.”
Em-em is Manuel Merino, the farmer abducted along with UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, on June 26, 2006 in Hagonoy, Bulacan.
Leuterio then said that through a “slit” in the door, he saw how soldiers wanted the two girls, whom they referred to as Tanya and Sierra, to dance. He also heard one said that, “masarap pagnasaan yan” (they look so luscious).
Meanwhile, soldiers were punching and kicking Merino on the floor.
During his cross-examination, Leuterio was asked by defense lawyers if it was possible to see such details if he was only looking through a slit in the door. But in his re-direct examination, he clarified that the “slit” was an opening big enough for him to see the entire living room where Merino and the two girls were.
A few minutes later, the three were ordered to be brought back to the vehicle.
Leuterio, along with fellow detainee Manuel Sioson, also said that on Aug. 29, 2006, he was brought to the office of the commanding general, where, he was told, he would meet a certain “Lolo.”
Soldiers turned off the light and then kicked him, causing his blindfold to be removed. When the light was turned on again, he finally saw “Lolo,” whom he later identified as Palparan.
The military finally released Leuterio on Sept. 14, 2006, with orders from no less than Palparan that he should not speak to anyone during the first few weeks of his release.
Asked why he remembered the date, he said, “because that is the most important date to me.”
Diosab Formilleza asked Leuterio during the cross-examination why there where particular details in his testimony – such as the date and time when he saw the UP students and Merino – that were not included in the first affidavit he executed.
Leuterio said during his re-direct that the hearing reminded him of more details during his detention at the military camp.
Erlinda Cadapan, mother of Sherlyn, said Leuterio’s testimony is a step closer for the truth to come out and to make Palparan accountable, adding that justice would soon be served for the two missing students.