Rights group hit Palparan absence in court hearings-A A +A
Thursday, September 27, 2012
MANILA -- A human rights group expressed concern over the continued absence of former army general Jovito Palparan Jr. in the court hearings of the kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges filed against him.
Palparan, who is blamed for the disappearances and torture of University of the Philippines students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, was missing once again on Monday's hearing at the Malolos Regional Trial Court.
"It will be almost a year since the hearings on the case against Palparan et al have started but not a shadow of Palparan was ever seen in Court. We want Palparan to face the court and put behind bars," said Cristina Palabay, secretary-general of the human rights group Karapatan.
"The Aquino government should ensure that these hearings should go in that direction, otherwise this is just going to be an exercise in futility," she added.
In the recent hearing, Raymond Manalo, the farmer who became acquainted with the two missing UP students, testified before the court that he saw how the soldiers abused the victims when they were in a military camp in Limay, Bataan.
Manalo, also a torture victim, positively identified before the Court, Lieutenant Colonel Felipe Anotado as one of the soldiers who frequented the camp in the company of Palparan. Anotado, one of Palparan's co-accused, was in the courtroom during the hearing.
Meanwhile, authorities assured that continuous efforts are being made to arrest the country’s most wanted fugitives, including Palparan, but admitted that there are hurdles in putting them behind bars.
The Philippine National Police said there are difficulties in tracking down the top fugitives since these are former political figures who have financial resources and support.
Aside from Palparan, the other wanted men are former Dinagat Island representative Ruben Ecleo Jr., former Palawan governor Joel Reyes, and Coron Mayor Mario Reyes.
Ecleo is convicted for killing his wife while the two Reyeses are tagged in the killing of environmentalist and broadcaster Gerry Ortega.
Last month, President Benigno Aquino III raised the reward for each wanted man to P2 million for information leading to the fugitives' apprehension.
Earlier this year, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) pressed for a "more aggressive" manhunt against the so-called "Big Four."
Police Director Samuel Pagdilao Jr., CIDG chief, ordered all regional and provincial chiefs to prioritize the gathering of information on the whereabouts of the fugitives and those who continuously provide refuge and financial support to them.
Pagdilao told all CIDG commanders to make it a top priority task for all Community Investigative Support members to help them in finding leads on the whereabouts of Palparan.
The CIDG chief also appealed to the people sympathetic to Palparan to help convince the fugitive to turn himself in to the authorities and prove his innocence in court. (Emmanuel Louis Bacani/Sunnex)