Court junks Palparan plea for bail
FOR THE MAN so-called “The Butcher” for his alleged human rights violations, the new year opened with a defeat in court.
Retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. is bound to stay detained as a Bulacan court has ruled that the evidence “is strong” to hold him accountable for the 2006 disappearance of University of the Philippines students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño.
In a ruling released on Monday, the Malolos City Regional Trial Court Branch 15 junked Palparan’s plea for bail, upholding the testimony of one witness as “credible” in establishing his possible role in the unresolved disappearance of the two students.
“The evidence for the prosecution at this stage against the accused Major General Palparan is strong. Accordingly, the instant petition for bail is hereby denied,” Judge Alexander Tamayo said in his order.
The issuance, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer Tuesday, gave weight to the testimony of Raymond Manalo, himself an alleged victim of enforced disappearance in the hands of Palparan, former chief of the Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Division.
With the denial of his bail plea, Palparan will have to stay at the Philippine Army Custodial Center in Taguig City during the trial.
“Given the fact that Major General Palparan exercised effective authority, full control and responsibility of command over all uniformed men and civilian personnel stationed at the 7th Infantry Division, it is probable, if not feasible, that he participated in, or knew, or should have known the enforced disappearance of the two (students),” the court said.
Manalo told the court that soldiers had abducted him on Feb. 14, 2006, and tortured and treated him as a slave for several months in different military detachments in Bulacan province.
He specifically pointed to Palparan as the man he had seen when he, as an alleged Army captive, had been brought to a basketball court in San Miguel, Bulacan.
Manalo also testified that he saw and spoke with Cadapan and Empeño sometime in “August or September 2006” and witnessed their torture. The two also related to him how they had been raped and abused by soldiers. He last saw the two students in July 2007.
“At this stage, the court finds Raymond Manalo to be a credible witness. His credibility stems from the fact that he himself is a victim of abduction and torture, which circumstance put him in an apparent credible position to testify on the things he had testified on,” the court ruled.
“His testimony that he saw and talked to the two desaparecidos, confiding to him that they experienced torture and rape, witnessing even the torture made against them cannot just be taken lightly or brushed aside as hearsay,” read the order.
Manalo’s firsthand account of his encounters with Palparan in the places where he was detained also “tends to establish the role of complicity of General Palparan in the abduction and kidnapping of the two desaparecidos.”
The court found Palparan’s defense wanting, calling his denial “uncorroborated … and without substantial contravention.”
Palparan said he had not seen Manalo before encountering him during investigations on the case. He also denied knowing his coaccused in the case, Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado, S/Sgt. Edgardo Osorio and M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario.
“At this stage, Manalo’s testimony, taken in conjunction with the testimonies of other witnesses and documentary and physical evidence, serves to substantiate the accusation against the accused, Major General Palparan, concerning his role and complicity in the incident at bar,” the court said.
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