The mothers of the two missing UP students suspect “The Butcher” is seeking acquittal through a senate seat.
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MALOLOS, Bulacan – Retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan may think that a senate seat will be his way out of the criminal charges he faces, but the lawyers and families of victims of human rights violations think he is “delusional.”
Palparan’s lawyer Narzal Mallares announced that the accused will run for senate, during the very hearing of the kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges against him here at the Malolos Regional Trial Court Branch 15 today, Sept. 30.
Palparan and two of his men, Col. Felipe Anotado and Staff Sgt. Edgardo Osorio, are accused in the enforced disappearance of University of the Philippines students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, who were abducted along with farmer Manuel Merino, in Bulacan in 2006.
Sherlyn’s mother, Erlinda Cadapan, said Palparan wants to run in the hope that he would be acquitted if he wins.
“I doubt if he would win. He tried to evade the law for three years,” Cadapan said. Palparan went into hiding in 2012 when the court ordered his arrest, and was captured only last year.
Mallares told the media after the hearing today September 30 that Palparan — notoriously called “The Butcher” by human rights groups for the reign of terror by military and death squads in his areas of assignment — is entitled to his constitutional right as “he is still presumed innocent.”
Palparan headed the regional infantry divisions in Southern Tagalog in 2001, in Eastern Visayas from February to September 2005, and in Central Luzon from September 2005 until he retired in 2006. This was all during the time of President Gloria Arroyo, when extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances escalated in these regions.
During the hearing, Palparan filed a motion to leave his detention either on Oct. 6 or 7, to go to the Commission on Elections’ office in Taguig City to update his biometrics. Then, Mallares manifested that the accused is also set to file his certificate of candidacy for the senate.
“Everybody is entitled to their own delusion,” said Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers and one of the private prosecutors.
Olalia said that while Palparan remains eligible to run as he still not yet convicted, such right “must be measured if he is deserving, given his long record of human rights violations.”
“Leaders should be role models. And he is not,” Karen’s mother, Connie Empeño, said.
Lawyer Josalee Deinla, who is also with the NUPL, said they oppose the motion, being yet another special privilege that is not accorded to more than 500 political prisoners and tens of thousands of detainees.
Deinla said Palparan is also a flight risk, being a fugitive for three years. She added that this is also contrary to their claims that there are serious threats to his security. His travel from the Philippine Army Custodial Center to the Comelec office “would entail enormous amount of government resources.”
She cited that during hearings alone, the military and police security use at least seven vehicles, with two 6×6 military trucks, not counting undercover intelligence agents
“The right to vote and be voted for is a right that may be limited as it is not a non-derogable right that would diminish a person’s humanity,” Deinla said.
She added that at any rate, it is not necessary for him to get out of jail to secure his biometrics as there are other means.
Palparan is a former representative of the openly anti-communist Bantay Partylist. He also lost his senatorial candidacy in 2010.
Meanwhile, Palparan is set to take the witness stand on Nov. 5, as he “wants to be heard,” Mallares said. The prosecution is set to submit their formal offer of evidence in relation to the bail proceedings.