Court enters not guilty plea for Palparan

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Monday, August 18, 2014

MANILA -- A Malolos judge entered on Monday a not guilty plea on behalf of retired Major General Jovito Palparan for cases related to the disappearance of two students from the University of the Philippines (UP) in June 2006.

Palparan refused to enter any plea during his arraignment for serious illegal detention and kidnapping charges before Judge Teodora Gonzales of the Malolos Regional Trial Court branch 14.

The court set the pre-trial on September 1.

Outside the court building, pro and anti-Palparan groups held protests for or against the former military official who was allegedly behind the torture, abduction, and killing of political activists and suspected communist rebels in areas under his watch: Southern Luzon, Eastern Visayas and Central Luzon.

The rallyists brought with them photos of Palparan’s alleged victims from these regions, including UP students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño.

“We are here to tell the government that we remain vigilant against any maneuvers by Palparan and his protectors in the government for him to get away from his accountability. He should be swiftly convicted and end up in jail,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

Palparan, who was escorted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents from its headquarters in Manila, appealed the court order to put him in Bulacan Provincial Jail, citing threats to his life.

The court, however, rejected his request, paving the way for his transfer to the provincial jail.

“There should be no special treatment for an ex-general who treated thousands of Filipinos with extreme merciless brutality. An ex-general who killed regularly should likewise be jailed in a regular facility,” said Kabataan party-list Representative Terry Ridon.

In 2007, the Melo Commission, an independent fact-finding commission tasked by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to look into cases of extrajudicial killings, named Palparan the “prime suspect behind extrajudicial killings.”

The body recommended that Palparan and other military officers be held responsible for the extrajudicial killings in areas under their command.

On the same year, the Supreme Court (SC) granted the petition for writ of amparo filed by the mothers of Empeño and Cadapan.

The High Court directed the Court of Appeals (CA) to hear the case, which ruled in December 2007 that Palparan is involved in the abduction of the two UP students.

In December 2011, the Department of Justice (DOJ) found probable cause to charge the ex-general and two others in court.

Palparan, who repeatedly denied the charges, was arrested on August 12 in Sta. Mesa, Manila after nearly three years in hiding. (Third Anne Peralta/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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