Mother-in-law among last to see missing UP student

Kin of victims, human rights defenders slam transfer of Palparan to military jail (Photo by Raymund B. Villanueva / Kodao Productions)
(Photo by Raymund B. Villanueva / Kodao Productions)

Adoracion Paulino wanted to see where Sherlyn Cadapan was going but was blocked by one of her companions, who said, “Don’t follow. You do not want to be involved here.”


MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan – Ten months after Sherlyn Cadapan was abducted in 2006, she showed up at the house of her mother-in-law, Adoracion Paulino, in Calumpit, Bulacan.

Paulino, 65, repeatedly referred to Sherlyn as “Lisa,” in her testimony today, June 1, at the Malolos Regional Trial Court hearing of the kidnapping and serious illegal detention case against retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan.

Julian Oliva Jr., one of the private prosecution lawyers, told that Paulino’s testimony would further build the case against Palparan who said in a media interview that they were able to capture two female members of the New Peoples’ Army, named “Lisa” and “Tanya.”

This is the third time that Paulino testified on the disappearance of Sherlyn and fellow University of the Philippines student Karen Empeño. Sherlyn is married to Paulino’s son Valentino.

Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno, along with farmer Manuel Merino, were abducted by suspected members of the military on June 26, 2006 in San Miguel village, Hagonoy, Bulacan.


On April 11, 2007, Paulino said she noticed a gray car in front of their house between 4 to 5 p.m. No one alighted from the car which left after several minutes.

Later in the evening, as she was watching television, her daughter-in-law Karen Cruz-Paulino knocked on her door, saying, “Mother, mother, open the door. Lisa is here.”

“I was very surprised, because I knew that Lisa had been missing for several months,” she said during the hearing.

She said Sherlyn was thin, pale and looked like a beggar. She was accompanied by three women and two men, who appeared like guards outside their home.

Sherlyn rushed to their room and came out with her husband’s shirts. Paulino repeatedly asked Sherlyn what happened to her, and if Valentino was with her. But Sherlyn just looked down and did not answer, she told

Sherlyn hugged her, and said, “Mother, I changed my destination.”

Paulino wanted to see where Sherlyn was going but was blocked by one of her companions, who said, “Don’t follow. You do not want to be involved here.”

Paulino told that she wanted to ask Sherlyn more questions. But she was also overwhelmed by Sherlyn’s sudden reappearance.

The following day, Paulino said four men came to her home, asking if she had a visitor last night. Two of the men were in military uniform and carried long firearms She said one of the armed men looked like Sherlyn’s companion the night before.

Out of fear, she said she did not have any visitors. They also asked where her her son Valentino was. When she said that her son was in Masbate, the armed men shouted at her and called her a liar.

Maria Kristina Conti, one of the private prosecution lawyers and National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers assistant secretary general for campaigns, said Paulino’s testimony is linked to that of Raymond Manalo, a torture survivor and witness.

In his testimony, Manalo said Sherlyn was brought out of the military camp in Limay, Bataan. When she was brought back, she was tortured heavily. He overheard that Sherlyn, who promised soldiers that there was a gun in her mother-in-law’s house, attempted to leave a letter at the house.

The letter, however, was intercepted by her companions.

Good daughter-in-law

Paulino said her son Valentino first introduced Sherlyn as a friend. The two later became a couple and got married sometime in 2005 or 2006, the exact date of which Paulino could no longer recall.

Paulino said Sherlyn taught farmers in their community. She was a very kind daughter-in-law, who took care of her when she was sick, Paulino said.

Paulino was among the last to see the two UP students before they were abducted. Sherlyn and Karen went to their house to attend the fiesta on June 13, 2006. She remembered that Karen had fever at the time. They stayed there for a week.

During this time, Sherlyn said that she missed her menstrual period for three months, suggesting that she was pregnant.

Sometime after the abduction, she received a call from human rights workers who informed her that Sherlyn and Karen were abducted. Paulino joined the search for the two UP students from one military camp to another. (

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