MALOLOS CITY—Retired Army Major Gen. Jovito Palparan narrowly escaped lynching from angry militants as he was literally hauled to the Bulacan Provincial Jail by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) yesterday.
This came as Judge Teodora Gonzales of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 14 here denied Palparan’s motion and stuck with her August 13 decision during yesterday’s arraignment on the highest ranking military officer to be charged with human rights violation.
As this developed, families of human rights victims issued an ultimatum to the retired general to tell the truth and disclose the whereabouts of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno, the two University of the Philippines students abducted in Hagonoy town in 2006.
Minutes after his arraignment, Palparan was escorted out of the court room of the heavily guarded RTC building here through the back of the building on the way to the nearby provincial jail. Seeing this situation, members of militant groups encamped in front of the building rushed to meet him by the gate of the provincial jail.
Militants intercepted Palparan and the NBI agents who moment before made a mistake of turning left after coming out of the RTC building, instead of turning right to the provincial jail. While Palparan was being shielded from the phalanx of militant group members, one of them tried to hit him with a pole.
This led NBI agents to literally drag the retired and frail looking general to the nearby jail, some of them with drawn handguns. Police and NBI agents immediately clamped down on the gate of the provincial jail, while members of militant groups starting chanting anti- Palparan messages.
They were later joined by Erlinda Cadapan, the mother of Sherlyn; and Asher and Concepcion Empeno, the parents of Karen. Both Erlinda and Concepcion issued ultimatum to Palparan to tell the truth and disclosed the whereabouts of their children. They also expressed disappointment over Palparan’s plea in open court to stay under NBI custody noting that he feared and valued his life.
“Eh duwag pala siya, ngayong nasa custody siya ng court natatakot siya, samantalang tatlong taon siyang nagtago at nag-isa,” Erlinda said. For her part, Concepcion tearfully expressed disappointment and she said, “sabi niya, he value his life, eh paano naman yung buhay ng mga anak namain, binigyan ba niya ng value?”
Palparan’s detention at the Bulacan Provincial Jail is seen as a small legal victory by the prosecution. However, Lawyer Edre Olalia, the private prosecutor representing the Cadapan and Empeno families said that there is a long battle ahead.
He said that case against Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado and Staff Sargeant Edgardo Osorio is now ready for resolution, but the case of Palparan is just starting. Their next court date will be on September 1.