MANILA – On May 31, the Court of Appeals First Division affirmed the conviction of retired Major General Jovito Palparan.
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers President Edre Olalia who served as private prosecutor for University of the Philippines students, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, welcomed the CA’s affirmation of Palparan’s conviction.
“Rare and far between as they are, the accountability of remorseless human rights violators will come if the victims, families, human rights defenders and persist,” Olalia said in a statement.
He added, “The facts, evidence and the law are so overwhelming as to have it any other way. We certainly need these affirmations that in time, one can not get away with rights abuses just like that. Nor will enablers be able to obfuscate the truth and rescript the facts. It is a loud and clear warning to those who entertain the thought that they are invincible and untouchable just because they are in power. Indeed, there will be no meaningful and real unity if there is continuing impunity,” Olalia added.
According to the CA’s ruling, the elements of kidnapping and serious illegal detention were present.
It was in 2018 when Malolos court found Palparan, Col. Felipe Anotado, and Staff Sgt. Edgardo Osorio guilty beyond reasonable doubt of kidnapping and serious illegal detention of the two UP students.
Human rights group Karapatan said this legal victory “affirms the need to pursue justice and accountability through and through — despite threats, harassment, reprisals, and patronage by those in power of these human rights violators.”
Karapatan added that “this could not have been possible without the without the strength and perseverance of the parents of Karen and Sherlyn, the witnesses, Desaparecidos (families and friends of the disappeared), the lawyers and human rights groups, the international community and the Filipino people who kept watch and remained vigilant throughout the years.”
Here is Bulatlat’s timeline of how the families together with supporters and rights groups fought for justice in the past years.