“To call it a ‘long overdue decision’ is an understatement. Raymond Manalo has been denied justice many times over, and this Ombudsman decision, while it establishes accountability through prosecution of Palparan et al, is also a testament to the failings of the current justice and social system.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – After 10 long years since brothers Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo were abducted, tortured and detained, a criminal case will finally be filed against the accused criminal mastermind, retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, who will be charged with kidnapping and serious illegal detention.
Ephraim Cortez, National Union of People’s Lawyers’s assistant secretary general for legal services, told Bulatlat in a text message that they are expecting the Office of the Ombudsman to soon file kidnapping and serious illegal detention cases against Palparan and his co-accused possibly before a Bulacan court, following its Nov. 6 joint order denying the retired general’s motion for reconsideration of an earlier ruling that found probable cause to indict him.
Palparan is already facing kidnapping and serious illegal detention in the case of missing students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, and farmer Manuel Meriño. Raymond had stood as the main witness in the case, having stayed in the same detention as the three victims. He and his brother escaped after more than a year in detention. He filed the case against Palparan in the Ombudsman in 2008.
Palparan is detained at the Philippine Army custodial center in Taguig city.
In its decision, the Ombudsman rejected Palparan’s insistence that the prosecution failed to show his conspiracy in the crime. “The absence or presence of conspiracy is factual in nature and involves evidentiary matters. The same is better ventilated before the trial court during the trial, where parties can adduce evidence or disprove its presence,” the decision read.
The Ombudsman also belied Palparan’s claims that he was denied due process.
“Due process is satisfied when a party is afforded fair and reasonable opportunity to explain his side of the controversy or an opportunity to move for a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of. That Maj. Gen. Palparan was given both resources and availed of the same are unassailably documented. Unfortunately, his submissions in his counteraffidavit and comment are either purely evidentiary or specious, and as such do not offer any cogent reason to reverse or modify the Office’s earlier resolution.
Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay reiterated her group’s full support “for Manalo and all victims of rights violations in their quest for justice.”
“To call it a ‘long overdue decision’ is an understatement. Raymond Manalo has been denied justice many times over, and this Ombudsman decision, while it establishes accountability through prosecution of Palparan et al, is also a testament to the failings of the current justice and social system,” Palabay said.
NUPL secretary general Edre Olalia said in a statement that Manalo “will hopefully finally be given justice that has eluded him and many other countless victims to this day.”
Manalo and his brother Reynaldo were abducted from their home on Feb. 14, 2006. Soldiers were looking for their brother Rolando. Unable to find their brother, soldiers pounced on the two instead and claimed they were members of the New People’s Army.
During their torture and detention in several military camps, they met missing University of the Philippines students Empeño and Cadapan and farmer Merino, also in 2006. Manalo later on provided vital eyewitness account on their detention and torture, which led to the filing of charges and the eventual arrest of Palparan.
Last week, Jan. 22, Palparan also failed to get the court to grant him temporary release after Bulacan Regional Trial Court Branch 15 denied his motion for reconsideration for bail.
Olalia said, “Palparan’s world is getting smaller everyday and his time is running out. The message is crystal clear: human rights violations victim will intensely hound even the high and mighty sooner or later.”