Palace vows to arrest other high-profile fugitives

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

MALACANANG said Tuesday that authorities continue to look for other high-profile fugitives following the arrest of retired Major General Jovito Palparan.

"Patuloy na sinisikap ng ating mga alagad ng batas na tugisin at mahuli ang iba pang pinaghahanap ng batas—'yung mga high-profile suspects," said Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. in a press briefing.

Palparan was one of the so-called "Big 5" fugitives and the second to be arrested, next to real estate businessman Delfin Lee. The three other big personalities who remain at large were former Palawan governor Joel Reyes and his brother, former Coron mayor Mario Reyes, and former Dinagat Island representative Ruben Ecleo Jr.

Coloma said Palparan's arrest showed the determination of the Aquino administration to bring to court those who were allegedly involved in extrajudicial killings.

"Matibay ang determinasyon ng ating Pangulo na iharap sa hukuman at panagutin ang mga mayroong usapin sa paglabag ng mga karapatang pantao at sa paglabag ng batas. Isang mahalagang bahagi ng mabuting pamamahala ay ‘yung pag-iral ng rule of law at ng batas," he said.

Palparan was allegedly behind the kidnapping of two students from the University of the Philippines.

Coloma said it would be up to the court where Palparan would be detained.

"'Yung Department of Justice nga—dahil under sa kanila 'yung NBI—ang mayroong kasalukuyang kustodiya sa kanya at susunod na lamang sila sa utos ng hukuman dahil nga si General Palparan ay sakop ng isang warrant of arrest," he said.

ACT-CIS Party-list Representative Samuel Pagdilao lauded the NBI on Monday following the arrest of Palparan in Santa Mesa, Manila.

Pagdilao, a former police spokesperson, said the arrests of two of the country's top most wanted criminals reflect the government's commitment to continuously run after top fugitives regardless of their political lineages or status in life.

The lawmaker said he will seek for a congressional inquiry to look deeper into the circumstances surrounding the arrest of Palparan and how he managed to remain at large for a long time.

Pagdilao want an assessment be made on the effectiveness of provisional task forces such as those resorted to the PNP to run after fugitives as against a regular unit that is funded, equipped and filled up with skilled people trained to track and arrest most wanted persons much like the United States Marshals Service.

Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate, for his part, said the arrest of Palparan is a "long delayed action" in the search for justice for the two abducted and still missing University of the Philippine students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, as well as for the other victims of human rights violations under his "brutal reign."

"We laud the relatives of the victims, particularly the parents of Karen and Sherlyn for their relentless efforts to make the favorite general of (former President) Gloria Arroyo accountable for his crimes," Zarate said.

Zarate noted the "arrogance" of the arrested former general even in the hands of the authorities.

"For a person who used to brag about his power and influence while committing his crimes with impunity, it is shameless for Palparan to demand some special considerations because of the phantom threats that he supposedly faces," the lawmaker said. (SDR/John Carlo Cahinhinan/Sunnex)

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