“One injustice over another.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Human rights lawyers denounced what they described as special privileges accorded to retired Major Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. inside prison.
In 2018, Palparan was declared guilty of kidnapping University of the Philippines students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan. He is the highest military official to be convicted for gross human rights violations. He has been labeled “The Butcher” for many cases of extrajudicial killings perpetrated under his command.
On May 6, Judge Francisco P. Felizmenio, presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court Branch 19 in Malolos, Bulacan denied the motion filed by NUPL seeking the transfer of Palparan to a regular cell at the maximum security facility as well as the termination of all special privileges and treatment he has been accorded.
NUPL President Edre Olalia said the decision is “one injustice over another.”
“With these kinds of special or extraordinary treatment being tolerated or glossed over, even if unwittingly, for the once powerful who have fallen but remain favored, does it not become even tougher for ordinary people to fortify their confidence in our justice and penal system especially at this time that they are being taunted with a parade of impunity and double standard? Lady justice may be blindfolded but should never be blind,” Olalia said in a statement sent to the media.
NUPL said Palparan has been overstaying at the Directorate for Reception and Diagnostics (DRD) where inmates undergo evaluation for not more than 60 days. At the DRD, the group said that Palparan “has been acting as ‘governor’ or ‘mayor de mayores’ to about 1,500 persons deprived of liberty (PDLs).” He is also given “unbridled access to the computer and the internet and many other privileges” which the ordinary inmates don’t enjoy.
Judge Felizmenio said the NUPL petition lacks merit. He added that his court has no jurisdiction over the order of commitment issued by Branch 15 especially that the cases against Palaparan have been elevated to the Court of Appeals.
Branch 19 is presently hearing another case of kidnapping and serious illegal detention filed by victim Raymond Manalo against Palparan. Manalo was the primary eyewitness who testified against
Palaparan in Branch 15 where the latter was convicted.
The order also stated that there was no proof of special treatment of Palparan.
Last year, however, Palparan was interviewed by Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWAA) Deputy Administrator Mocha Uson which was aired in her social media platform. Rights groups questioned Uson’s interview with Palparan as a court order is needed to conduct such interview.