Jovito Palparan arrested

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

MANILA (3rd Update) -- Retired Major General Jovito Palparan was arrested by authorities early Tuesday after nearly three years of evading prosecution for alleged kidnapping of two University of the Philippines (UP) students in 2006.

Palparan, along with two others, was arrested by a composite team of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Anti-Organized Crime Division and the Armed Forces of the Philippines' Naval Intelligence Group around 3:30 a.m. in his hideout in Sta. Mesa, Manila.

Malacañang hailed Tuesday the arrest of 63-year-old Palparan, one of the most wanted personalities in the country.

"With his arrest, he may now be brought before the bar of justice and go through the processes of accountability," Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the Palace commends the AFP and the NBI for their steadfast doggedness in pursuing all leads to find and capture Palparan, who has P2-million bounty over his head.

"Today, this resolute determination has paid off, the long arm of the law has finally reached Mr. Palparan," he said, adding that President Benigno Aquino III promised that those who evade the law will be found.

"That promise to capture General Palparan has been fulfilled today," Lacierda said.

Jovito Palparan
MANILA. Former Army General Jovito Palparan talks to the media at the National Bureau of Investigation following his capture by NBI agents Tuesday, August 12, 2014, in Sta. Mesa, Manila. (AP)

The National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL) said in an email that Palparan's capture comes as the defense for two other accused military officers, Colonel Felipe Anotado and Sergeant Edgardo Osorio, prepares to wrap up on August 18.

After that, it will be Palparan's turn to refute before the Malolos Regional Trial Court branch 14 allegations that he had a hand in the enforced disappearance of UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan in Hagonoy, Bulacan on June 26, 2006.

Master Sergeant Rizal Hilario, also a co-accused in the case, remains at large.

"What happens thereafter will come under close scrutiny, here and abroad. Palparan must face the music and the full wrath of the furies for all the crimes credibly imputed to him - extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrests and other gross human rights violations," the NUPL said, who acted as counsel for the relatives of the missing students.

Kabataan party-list Representative Terry Ridon, however, said that Palparan's arrest does not mean that he will be prosecuted accordingly, noting that the government has "played soft" on alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles and detained Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada, and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr.

"We should also view Palparan's case in the context of the long-drawn legal battle on the Maguindanao massacre. The Ampatuans have long been arrested. Palparan has been arrested. But the question is, when will they get convicted for their crimes?" Ridon said.

In June 2011, the Supreme Court (SC) issued a resolution ordering the AFP to surface Cadapan and Empeño as it affirmed that Palparan and other military officials were responsible for the abduction and disappearances of the students.

All of the respondents belong to either the 24th or the 56th Infantry Battalion, all under the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army of which Palparan was then the commanding general.

The retired general is detained at the NBI headquarters in Manila while waiting for the commitment order from Judge Teodora Gonzales.

Palparan's companions, cousins Reynaldo Ladao and Grace Roa, may also be charged with obstruction of justice and harboring a fugitive. The NBI said the manhunt took them to as far as Zambales, Bataan and Pampanga. (Virgil Lopez/Third Anne Peralta/SDR/Sunnex)

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