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Palparan shocks court with Senate bid

By: - Correspondent / @inquirerdotnet
/ 12:40 AM October 01, 2015

CITY OF MALOLOS—Retired Army Maj. Gen Jovito Palparan surprised a Regional Trial Court here on Wednesday when he announced his bid to run for the Senate in next year’s elections.

Palparan informed the court about his political ambition at the resumption of his trial for the kidnapping and serious illegal detention of University of the Philippines students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño.

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The government prosecutors had concluded its case against Palparan, and three other Army officers, when the retired general’s lawyer, Narzal Mallares, petitioned Judge Alexander Tamayo of the Bulacan Regional Trial Court Branch 15 to allow him to leave his jail cell on Oct. 6 and proceed to the local poll office.

Palparan informed the court that he needed to apply for a change in residency and to accomplish all the requirements for voters, such as providing the Commission on Elections his biometrics information, so he could file his certificate of candidacy for senator.

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Palparan is a registered voter in Tanay town in Rizal province. He intends to register as a voter of Taguig City in Metro Manila, Mallares told the Inquirer.

Palparan, who is detained at the Army Custodial Center in Fort Bonifacio, ran for a Senate seat but lost in 2010, shortly after he was sworn in 2009 as a Bantay party-list representative due to a Supreme Court ruling on the party-list system. He became a fugitive in 2011 after he was implicated and charged with the disappearance of Cadapan and Empeño.

Palparan, who was caught in 2014, has been standing trial along with detained Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado and S/Sgt. Edgardo Osorio, and M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario, who has not yet been arrested.

Tamayo gave the prosecutors five days to comment on the Palparan motion.

Speaking to the Inquirer, Palparan said he retains the right to seek public office because he has not been convicted of any crime. He said he is running as an independent candidate.

Lawyer Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) and a private counsel for the families of Empeño and Cadapan, said they would oppose Palparan’s petition.

Olalia said granting Palparan the chance to clean up his poll records in a bid to run for office smacked of special treatment.

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Erlinda Cadapan, mother of Sherlyn, said the families feared that Palparan could win and wield enough political influence to obtain an acquittal.

“But we also don’t know who would vote for someone who hid from justice when he was charged with a crime,” she said.

During the trial, NUPL lawyer Julian Oliva informed the court that the prosecution was resting its case after presenting six witnesses.

The prosecution was supposed to present a seventh witness, Remedios Reyes, the librarian of GMA Network, who submitted a certification attesting to the authenticity of the recordings of interviews with Palparan that were presented as evidence against the retired general.

Oliva said Reyes authenticated the copy of the records of interviews of an online news report dated October 2014; a piece broadcast by the program, “Debate with Mare and Pare,” on Aug. 3, 2006; and a GMA “News to Go” telephone interview on Aug. 12, 2014.

Mallares said the GMA recordings and transcripts did not show that Palparan made “a clear admission that he was behind the abduction of Cadapan and Empeño.”

Tamayo gave the prosecution 10 days to submit its formal offer of evidence. He directed the defense to submit its reply within 10 days after it received the prosecution’s documents.

“We need to expedite the hearing,” he told both camps.

Palparan is scheduled to take the witness stand, possibly on Nov. 5, according to his lawyers.

Mallares said a village leader of a Bulacan town might also testify on Nov. 26. He said the defense would submit for resolution its petition to post bail for Palparan after it gives the testimonies.

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