Palparan trial to start Aug. 6, but court says fugitive must yieldBy Carmela Reyes-Estrope
Inquirer Central Luzon
MALOLOS, Philippines – The trial of retired Major General Jovito Palparan in connection with the abduction of two University of the Philippines students will begin on August 6, but the Bulacan regional trial court wants the fugitive general and another soldier to surface because they could not be tried in absentia.
Palparan faces charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges, along with and three other military officers, one of whom is also at large – Marine/Sergeant Rizal Hilario.
Lawyer Julian Oliva Jr., counsel for the families of missing students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, said the prosecution was ready to present evidence against Palparan.
But Palparan and Hilario “cannot be tried [nor could they be] represented in court at this point in time kasi wala pang jurisdiction sa kanila [ang korte] (because the court still has no jurisdiction over them],” said Edre Olalia, Oliva’s co-counsel and secretary-general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers.
Citing a ruling issued by Bulacan Judge Teodora Gonzales, Olalia said the lawyers of the two fugitives must submit to the court’s arrest warrants and surrender before the court could include them in the trial.
Gonzales said Palparan and Hilario must yield to the court before August 6 when their lawyers could present their defense.
Only Lieutenant Colonel Felipe Anotado and Staff/Sgt. Edgardo Osorio, who have surrendered, will stand trial.
The judge has set 16 trial dates for the Cadapan-Empeño kidnapping, beginning with trials on August 6 and 27 and September 10 and 24, Oliva said.
No information has surfaced on the whereabouts of Palparan but his Facebook account has been active, which has made authorities curious.
The cover picture on the account shows the retired Army general addressing a crowd, but
Palparan’s lawyer, Jesus Santos, has not yet responded to queries about the account’s authenticity.
Lawyer Melba David, Gonzales’ clerk of court, said no media coverage during the trials would be allowed, although the court would allow interviews before the proceedings.