No Duterte plan to pardon Palparan, says Malacañang
Malacañang on Wednesday squelched speculation that President Rodrigo Duterte would pardon retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. as human rights groups accused the Armed Forces of the Philippines of coddling the former general who was convicted earlier this week for the abduction and disappearance of two University of the Philippines students.
“There is no basis for that,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a radio interview regarding a possible presidential pardon for Palparan.
Palparan, dubbed “The Butcher” by militant groups, was sentenced, along with former Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado and S/Sgt. Edgardo Osorio, to life imprisonment for the kidnapping and illegal detention of Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan in 2006.
“It’s the government that jailed Palparan and it will be the government that will ensure that justice will be given to the victims,” Roque said.
Empeño and Cadapan were seized in June 2006 by armed men in Hagonoy, Bulacan province.
The two UP students were last seen being tortured in a military camp.
Mockery of the law
In a statement, rights group Hustisya said the AFP was making a mockery of the law by refusing to immediately commit Palparan to the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) after his conviction.
“The AFP is making a fool out of the victims and even the courts by saying they’re still waiting for a commitment order. The court decision is the order itself,” said Evangeline Hernandez, chair of Hustisya, an organization of victims and relatives of victims of human rights violations.
Hustisya said Palparan was still being held at the Army custodial center in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, three days after his conviction.
The group said the military was “making all kinds of excuses” in trying to keep Palparan in its custody.
According to Hustisya, Palparan’s counsel asked that he be allowed to remain in Fort Bonifacio to attend to other pending cases against him, which the judge denied on grounds that doing so would violate Supreme Court guidelines to immediately transfer a convict to a national penitentiary.
“Palparan should be brought to NBP the soonest. He has enjoyed years of special treatment in Fort Bonifacio, it’s time that justice be served [to] the fullest by treating him like a common criminal,” Hernandez said.
Erlinda Cadapan, Sherlyn’s mother, said the AFP was perpetrating “impunity” by keeping Palparan.
“The delay of his transfer at the NBP reeks of special treatment. He has been proven guilty, and as long as he remains in an Army camp, that is impunity,” she said.
Warning of same fate
One of the President’s archcritics, jailed Sen. Leila de Lima, warned the President and his associates that they could meet the same fate as Palparan for their alleged human rights violations.
“No matter how brave you are now and how much you disrespect the human rights of Filipinos—including their right to life and freedom—you will be judged and made to answer for your wrongs,” said De Lima, who is facing what she describes as trumped-up drug charges.
She said the conviction of Palparan should open the eyes of people in power and their minions who act as if they were the law.
“Remember that all those who commit wrong will be held to account at the proper time,” said De Lima, who was the justice secretary when the case was filed against Palparan.
The verdict, she said, was “a welcome respite in our long and tedious struggle against impunity in this country.” —REPORTS FROM CHRISTINE O. AVENDAÑO, LEILA B. SALAVERRIA AND MELVIN GASCON
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