Manhunt launched for retired general

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011


RETIRED Major General Jovito Palparan, ordered arrested by a Bulacan court for masterminding the abduction of two students in 2006, was nowhere to be found on Tuesday.

As a result, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima immediately tasked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to find, arrest and jail Palparan as soon as possible.

"Hence, I directed the NBI arresting team led by Region 3 (Central Luzon) chief, Atty. Ric Diaz, in coordination with the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG), to conduct manhunt operations against them," she said.

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Besides Palparan, the police also failed to locate Master Sergeant Rizal Hilario, who is also accused of two counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention.

Both are non-bailable offenses.

Army Staff Sergeant Edgardo Osorio and Lieutenant Colonel Felipe Anotado of the 25th Infantry Battalion surrendered to authorities after being served with arrest warrants.

Still missing up to this day are University of the Philippines (UP) students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, who were allegedly suspected by the military as sympathizers of the communist rebel group, New People’s Army (NPA).

Asked for comment, rights group Karapatan said the government should use its resources to bring Palparan to justice.

“Palparan must be immediately apprehended after the Bulacan Trial Court issued a warrant of arrest Tuesday. After Palparan’s failed attempt to flee, the Court must issue a hold departure order to prevent him from leaving the country,” Karapatan deputy secretary general Jigs Clamor told Sun.Star.

Senator Francis Pangilinan, chairman of the Senate committee on social justice, said that De Lima's hard-line stance will help the government at ending impunity.

"Those responsible must be made accountable, and this may be the best Christmas gift to families who have long been in mourning and seeking justice," Pangilinan said of the arrest warrants against Palparan and others believed to have been involved in the disappearance of Empeño and Cadapan.

He said that the warrants, and progress on the cases, "will send a strong signal to those believing they are still protected by a cloak of
impunity."

Pangilinan, a former student leader also from UP, promised support for "all efforts to find resolution, justice, and closure to the cases of missing persons and victims of senseless
killings."

Issued by Judge Teodora Gonzales of the Malolos Regional Trial Court branch 14, the arrest warrant came a day Palparan was stopped to leave the country for Singapore on Monday since a government-imposed restriction to his travel has yet to be lifted.

Although the watchlist order against Palparan expired last November, De Lima had said that the WLO is still in effect since her office has yet to strike off his name on the list.

The Cadapan-Empeño case against Palparan is among the cases filed against alleged rights violators under the nine-year presidency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Other cases include the P6-million civil case filed by the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) against Arroyo and the motion to resolve the criminal and administrative cases filed by torture survivors Raymond Manalo and Oscar Leuterio at the Ombudsman.

Members of the so-called “Morong 43” health workers, meanwhile, are asking P15 million from Arroyo and her security officials for moral and exemplary damages after they were illegally detained for nearly a year in 2010.

Meanwhile, a Palace spokesperson has asked the retired military official to surrender and face the charges filed against him.

"While he no longer has men under his command, and while he can no longer behave with impunity, it is incumbent upon Mr. Palparan to submit to the authorities and face the charges in court. We would hope that he will face the music and face the charges. Surrender now,” Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a statement. (Virgil Lopez/Jill Beltran/Sunnex)

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