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Lawyers’ groups hits Palparan ‘staycation’ at Army Custodial Center

While lesser mortals are whisked away to the national penitentiary after conviction, Jovito Palparan Jr. appears to be taking his own sweet time in a military camp.

Palparan, dubbed “The Butcher” by human rights groups, is enjoying an extended “staycation” at the Philippine Army Custodial Center in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, despite an earlier court order committing him to the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City, a lawyers’ group rued on Monday.

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That’s far from the truth, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said, arguing that it was awaiting clarification from the courts on where he should be committed.

But Malacañang agreed that the retired Army major general should have been moved to the NBP after conviction.

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The Bulacan Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 15 in Malolos City sentenced Palparan, former Army Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado Jr. and former Army Staff Sgt. Edgardo Osorio to 40 years behind bars on Sept. 17 for the 2006 kidnapping and illegal detention of University of the Philippines students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan.

The court also ordered their transfer to the NBP.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), which acted as private prosecutors in the Empeño-Cadapan case, said Palparan’s “continued staycation” bordered on contempt of court.

Military coddlers?

“Palparan and his military coddlers and lawyers are running circles around the judicial system and taunting civilian supremacy over the military by stalling his transfer on flimsy and nonsensical grounds,” said NUPL national president Edre Olalia.

The military denied coddling the retired major general and giving him special treatment.

Col. Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesperson, said the military was awaiting the court’s resolution of a pending motion seeking a reconsideration of the conviction, as well as a clarification on where he should be committed.

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Palparan is also being tried for the 2006 kidnapping and torture of brothers Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo at the Bulacan RTC Branch 19, Arevalo said.

During the trial, both Bulacan RTC branches ordered Palparan’s commitment to the Army Custodial Center, the officer said.

Commitment order

After Branch 15 convicted Palparan and ordered his commitment to the NBP, the custodial center filed a manifestation on Sept. 24 with a motion for a court determination on which commitment order should be followed, Arevalo said.

At this point, the military was uncertain which commitment order to follow.

Olalia scoffed at the military’s argument, saying the conviction and commitment order handed down by Branch 15 should have superseded the earlier commitment order issued by Branch 19.

A 2013 Supreme Court circular, signed by Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez, directed all trial court judges to issue commitment orders of national prisoners immediately following their conviction, whether or not a motion for reconsideration or appeal has been filed, in order to decongest jails, he said.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque agreed that Palparan should have been committed to the NBP after his conviction. —WITH A REPORT FROM JULIE M. AURELIO

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TAGS: Jovito Palparan Jr., Karen Empeño, kidnapping and illegal detention case, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, New Bilibid Prison, NUPL, Philippine Army Custodial Center, Sherlyn Cadapan
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