7TH ANNIVERSARY OF ABDUCTION

Victims’ kin angry Palparan is still free

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HAGONOY, Bulacan—Seven years after his daughter Sherlyn was abducted by armed men believed to be soldiers in this town, Asher Cadapan is angry that no one has been punished for the crime.

On Wednesday, the seventh anniversary of the abduction of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, both University of the Philippines students, the elder Cadapan reiterated his call for justice and asked the government to arrest retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, who is among those facing charges for the students’ disappearance.

“We are devastated because Palparan has yet to be arrested. It has been seven years and we have been longing to see our children but they’re still missing and the people responsible for their disappearance have yet to be arrested and jailed,” Cadapan said in a text message to the Inquirer on Wednesday.

“We are sad and at the same time angry at the government for disregarding human rights,” said Karen’s mother, Concepcion Empeño.

The relatives of Cadapan and Empeño and other human rights victims and their supporters gathered in Metro Manila on Wednesday for candle-lighting ceremonies and programs to remember Sherlyn and Karen.

“We believe that solving cases of human rights violations is not a priority for President Aquino. Cases of rights abuse are increasing. I’m fuming because they have failed to arrest Palparan who, we believe, is being coddled by the military,” Empeño’s mother said. “Palparan should be held accountable and jailed, or better yet, he should disappear from the face of the earth.”

Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, who were student activists, were abducted in Hagonoy, Bulacan, on June 26, 2006, allegedly by soldiers under the command of Palparan.

Palparan, the former commander of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division based in Nueva Ecija, was last seen in public on Dec. 19, 2011, when Bureau of Immigration personnel at the Clark International Airport in Pampanga stopped him from leaving the country for Singapore.

Later that day, a court in Bulacan issued an arrest warrant against Palparan and three other soldiers.

Only his coaccused, Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado and Staff Sgt. Edgardo Osorio, have surrendered and have been standing trial for the abduction. Another soldier, M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario, has yet to be arrested.

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