Manhunt for wanted general continues-A A +A
Friday, December 23, 2011
MANILA – Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Thursday no reward yet has been put up for the arrest of former Army general Jovito Palparan Jr., as government authorities are still conducting manhunt operations.
Palparan is currently facing two counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention for the disappearance of Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, both students from the University of the Philippines.
“It really depends on the development (of the manhunt operations) in the next 48 hours if that would be necessary or warranted. I am keeping my fingers crossed and I'm hoping that there will be significant, positive development in that regard,” De Lima told reporters.
Palparan, who is also former Bantay party-list representative, admitted in a radio interview that he went into hiding saying the justice secretary messed up his case.
But the justice secretary denied Palparan’s accusation and said the Department of Justice (DOJ) is just doing its job in resolving a complaint.
De Lima said she was not dictating upon the panel of prosecutors who was assigned in the illegal detention and kidnapping charges against Palparan.
The DOJ chief also said that Palparan should not complain about the DOJ’s filing of the criminal charges before the Malolos City Regional Trial Court (RTC) because it was based on the Rules of Procedure.
On Wednesday, the RTC of Malolos City issued hold departure orders against Palparan and three others in connection with the disappearance of two students of University of the Philippines in 2006.
Also named as respondents in the kidnapping charges together with Palparan are military officers, Lieutenant Colonel Felipe Anotado Jr., Staff Sergeant Edgardo Osorio, and Master Sergeant Rizal Hilario.
Hilario and Osorio voluntarily surrendered while Palparan and Anotado are subject to manhunt operation.
In Malacanang, Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said a bounty will "most likely" be offered "if he is not yet found."
"But that is a decision to be made by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo," he said.
Upon De Lima’s instructions, hot pursuit operations were conducted by the police and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) since Wednesday to bring Palparan to justice.
“Manhunt is still ongoing but of course we cannot disclose to you the details. As soon as there are developments, you (media) will know,” De Lima said.
The former military official, also accused of killing political dissenters during the Arroyo administration, has since denied any wrongdoing.
Edre Olalia, one of the counsels of the missing victims, said the proposed bounty is unnecessary in cornering Palparan and co-accused Hilario, who still remains at large.
“But it can help as an additional incentive and to further propagate the information about his being a fugitive from justice and thereby get greater chances to take him in sooner,” he told Sun.Star.
At present, De Lima said Palparan will not be slapped with other cases for trying to evade prosecution as she reiterated her appeal of surrender for Palparan and Hilario.
Anotado Jr. and Osorio are currently detained at the PNP custodial center in Camp Crame after Judge Teodora Gonzales of Malolos City Regional Trial Court branch 14 issued the arrest warrants on Tuesday.
Gonzales likewise released a hold departure order to prevent the suspects from leaving the country while under trial for the non-bailable crimes.
On Monday, Palparan tried to depart for Singapore but the immigration officers stationed at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in Pampanga offloaded him since his name was not yet erased from the government watchlist.
In a related report, airports and harbors across the country were placed on high alert after the hold departure order was issued.
"Palparan is already in the database and it has been disseminated," Bureau of Immigration (BI) spokesperson Ma. Antonette Bucasas-Mangrobang said.
However, she noted that Palparan will be allowed to leave the country once he can show an allow departure order (ADO) or if the court has lifted the HDO.
"We would like to ask the public to cooperate and if they have any valid sighting of General Palparan, please inform the authorities—the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) and the PNP (Philippine National Police)," Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said, adding that they believe Palparan remains in the country.
“We’re very optimistic that we would be able to apprehend General Palparan,” he stressed adding that the intelligence community is looking at all possible areas where the former Army official can take refuge.
He, meanwhile, warned persons who may be coddling Palparan that they can be held liable as accessories to the crime.
"We are still hopeful that he will decide to surrender and it will make life easier for all of us," he said. (Virgil Lopez/Jill Beltran/FP/Sunnex)