Malolos court acquits Palparan of kidnapping, illegal detention

Malolos court acquits Palparan of kidnapping, illegal detention of Manalo brothers

MANILA, Philippines — The Malolos Regional Trial Court has acquitted retired Major General Jovito Palparan for the 2006 kidnapping and serious illegal detention with physical injuries of brothers Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo.

Aside from Palparan, also acquitted are Master Sergeant Rizal Hilario and the military auxiliary force members, brothers Michael, Marcelo, Jose, Maximo, and Roman dela Cruz. Presiding Judge Francisco Felizmenio of Malolos RTC Branch 19 penned the decision.

Palparan watched his promulgation online from the New Bilibid Prison where he is serving life imprisonment for the June 26, 2006 kidnapping of University of the Philippines students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno, who are still missing.


The Manalo brothers were abducted from their house in San Ildefonso town, Bulacan on February 14, 2006. They were taken on suspicion that they were members of the communist party. They escaped in August 2007.


While in detention, they met Empeño and Cadapan.

The brothers testified in the case against Palparan for the abduction of Cadapan and Empeño, leading to Palparan’s first conviction.

READ: Palparan guilty of kidnapping UP students

Activists, among them Edna Burgos, the mother of another desaparecido (missing) Jonas Burgos, staged a picket outside the Bulacan court house when Judge Felizmenio dismissed the charges filed against Palparan.

Raymond Manalo exited the courtroom with his fist clenched and yelled, “Walang katarungan (There is no justice).” His lawyer, Jun Oliva of the National Union of People’s Lawyer (NUPL), said they will appeal the decision and may elevate the lawsuit before the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court should it be necessary.

The court dismissed the case because the Manalo brothers could not confirm that they saw Palparan during their captivity at a military facility in San Ildefonso, according to Oliva. He said the judge also cited inconsistencies between affidavits submitted by the Manalo brothers and the prosecution witnesses and their oral statements during the trial.


Dark night

“Madilim ang gabi, walang masyadong ilaw sa lugar (The night was dark and the place was not well-lit),” went one of the testimonies presented at the trial of Palparan and brothers Michael, Marcelo, and Mariano dela Cruz who were members of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographic Unit (Cafgu). The brothers have been incarcerated at the Bulacan provincial jail. One of them has since passed away.

The prosecution said the Manalo brothers were snatched by armed men associated with Palparan when they failed to locate a third Manalo brother, Rolando, who was an alleged New People’s Army (NPA) member who had surrendered to the police.

They were kept in different detention facilities and were able to escape in August 2007 when they were brought to a farm in Bolinao town, Pangasinan. The farm was owned by Army Sgt. Donald Caigas.

NUPL initially filed their kidnapping complaint against Palparan in 2007 before the Office of the Ombudsman, which remanded the case to the Bulacan Prosecutor’s Office. The Bulacan RTC began hearing the case in 2013. The Bulacan prosecutor granted NUPL’s request to take the lead in the case.

Raymond testified in the trial over the kidnapping of Cadapan and Empeno trial which resulted in the 2018 conviction of Palparan, Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado, and S/Sgt. Edgardo Osorio by Bulacan RTC Judge Alexander Tamayo on September 17, 2018. The fourth defendant who was also convicted, Master Sergeant Rizal Hilario, is currently a fugitive.

Testimony convicted Palparan

Raymond told Tamayo’s court that he saw the two UP students in various army detention camps and said the two women bore marks of torture.

“Iyon nga ang masakit – sobrang sakit. Hindi ko in-e-expect na ma-acquit ang berdugo (That is what makes today’s court decision painful — too painful. I did not expect the executioner to be acquitted),” Raymond told newsmen.

The judge enforced strict security measures that allow journalists to witness the proceedings only if they leave behind all their recording devices, including pen and paper. But the media was still unable to enter the court on the second floor of the courthouse which was blocked by policemen.

Reynaldo was not at the promulgation.

Oliva said Reynaldo continues to suffer mental anguish from the tortures he and his brother endured. “We put him in the witness stand, but he was shaking. He was still in shock,” Oliva told the Inquirer.


Atty. Edre Olalia, NUPL chairperson, said the Bulacan court’s decision is “simply unbelievable if not disturbingly shocking.”

He said it does not make sense how Palparan can be convicted mainly on the basis of the testimony of the same witness survivor by one court and years later would be acquitted on the same testimony in a separate case brought by the same witness survivor in another court.

“It would be tremendously difficult to explain to the Manalo brothers, the parents of still missing Karen and Sherryl and countless others he had red tagged and victimized, how they cannot seek legal redress despite the “credible, categorical and convincing” accounts that even the appellate courts have priorly established,” he said.

NUPL is part of the private prosecution team.

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READ: Palparan and the ‘desaparecidos’: ‘Nunca Más’

TAGS: acquit, acquitted, Palparan

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