“Is the military totally bereft of even an iota of morality? Don’t they heed persons in authority?”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – Mothers of disappeared university students assailed the reported continuing detention of retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan in a military camp despite a commitment order from a Bulacan court, ordering his detention at the National Penitentiary.
“The military’s continuing custody (of Palparan) is not just. Is this how justice goes in the country? They should be ashamed of themselves. The whole world is rejoicing over his conviction and this is what they do?” Concepcion Empeño, mother of disappeared student Karen, told Bulatlat.
Palparan is the highest military official ever to be indicted and consequently convicted for a human rights violation. Last Monday, Sept. 17, a Bulacan court issued a commitment order against Palparan and two other Army officials as they were found guilty of kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges over the enforced disappearances of university students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan more than 12 years ago.
Lawyer Arturo Cabides, who is representing the three convicted military officials, asked Judge Alexander Tamayo during the hearing if the latter could remain in the Philippine Army Custodial Center. This, however, was denied.
“Is the military totally bereft of even an iota of morality? Don’t they heed persons in authority?” Empeño added.
Erlinda Cadapan, mother of disappeared student Sherlyn, said President Rodrigo Duterte, as commander-in-chief, must look into this.
“Is the military now above the courts?” she asked, adding that this would undermine if not render the court as useless.
Edre Olalia, president of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, said the military may be held liable for contempt of court “for open defiance or disobedience to an explicit judicial order to immediately commit the convict to the National Penitentiary as all convicted felons are.”
He added “most disturbingly is the undeserved special treatment he [Palparan] is being given since he was arrested in 2014.”
Olalia said in a statement, “that is not only brazen impunity but is also open disrespect that undermines the justice system all the more and validates well-founded fears that the Army has something up its sleeves.”