‘Inconsistent’ acquittal of Palparan questioned

‘Inconsistent’ acquittal of Palparan questioned

‘Inconsistent’ acquittal of Palparan questioned

‘SHOCKING’ RULING | Farmer Raymond Manalo breaks into tears after a court dismissed on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023, the charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention filed against retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan. (Photo NIÑO JESUS ORBETA / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — Relatives and friends of two sibling farmers questioned the “shocking and unjust” acquittal of retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan on charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention by a Malolos court on Friday.

How can Palaparan be convicted in one case and be cleared in another on the basis of the same testimonies, the groups Desaparecidos, ACT for Peace, and Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura asked after the Malolos Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 19 acquitted Palparan of kidnapping, serious illegal detention of, and causing serious physical injuries to brothers Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo in 2006.


In his decision promulgated on Friday, Presiding Judge Francisco Felizmenio said “inconsistencies” in the testimonies of the Manalo brothers were the bases for the acquittal of Palparan, Army Master Sergeant Rizal Hilario, and siblings Michael, Marcelo, Jose, Maximo, and Roman dela Cruz, who were militiamen.


Palparan watched his promulgation online from New Bilibid Prison, where he and his fellow convicts are serving a life imprisonment term for the abduction and torture of activists Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño in 2006.

‘Sends a chilling message’

But in separate statements, Desaparecidos, ACT for Peace, and Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura criticized Felizmenio’s ruling because the “inconsistent” testimonies led to Palparan’s 2018 conviction in the Cadapan-Empeño case.

The brothers Manalo testified before Branch 15 Judge Alexander Tamayo, also of the Malolos RTC, who later found Palparan, Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado, and Staff Sgt. Edgardo Osorio guilty of kidnapping and serious illegal detention and sentenced them to 40 years in prison.

“This verdict [in the Manalo brothers’ case] not only perpetuates a culture of impunity but also sends a chilling message to all those who seek justice for the victims of human rights violations,” said Desaparecidos chair Erlinda Cadapan, mother of the disappeared activist.

“The acquittal of Palparan only serves to undermine the principles of justice, allowing those responsible for heinous crimes to evade responsibility,” she added.

Evade punishment

Cadapan, Empeño, and the Manalo brothers separately disappeared in 2006, but they saw each other while detained by the military, according to the testimony of Raymond Manalo before Judge Tamayo. He said he saw both women being tortured and sexually assaulted while in detention.


Manalo’s testimony was key to Palparan’s conviction in 2018. But in acquitting Palparan last Friday, Felizmenio said he found inconsistencies in the Manalos’ recollection of their abduction.

But the fact that Manalos’ testimony was used as a basis for Palparan’s conviction in 2018, and which the Court of Appeals upheld in 2020, “seriously puts into question the wisdom behind the acquittal,” said ACT for Peace lead convener Mike Pante.

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ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro agreed that Palparan’s acquittal was a grave injustice and a “chilling message” that those who commit heinous crimes against innocents can evade punishment.

TAGS: Jovito Palparan, kidnapping case, Malolos Regional Trial Court, Raymond Manalo, Reynaldo Manalo

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