The Bulacan Regional Trial Court (RTC) has ordered the detention of retired Major General Jovito Palparan at the Bulacan Provincial Jail (BPJ).
Bulacan RTC Branch 14 Judge Teodora Gonzales issued a commitment order on Wednesday morning directing the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to present Palparan to the court “immediately.”
A team of NBI agents went to the Bulacan RTC also on Wednesday morning and returned the warrant of arrest but Palparan was not with them. The agents said they could not take Palparan with them because of alleged “risks” on his life.
Gonzales set Palparan’s arraignment on August 18.
Palparan is facing charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention for the abduction of University of the Philippines students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan.
Meanwhile, provincial jail warden Pepito Plamenco said the BPJ is ready to accommodate high-profile detainees like Palparan.
He added that Palparan will be locked up in a cell with a bed and toilet.
Plamenco said he has asked Bulacan acting police director Senior Supt. Ferdinand Divina to send additional policemen to secure the former general while his case is being heard at the Bulacan RTC.
No end to impunity
But human rights group Karapatan also on Wednesday said Palparan’s arrest does not end the culture of impunity in the country.
“The machinery of the Armed Forces of the Philippines [AFP] that perpetuates Palparan-style human rights violations against the Filipino people is very much active in implementing Oplan Bayanihan,” Cristina Palabay, the group’s secretary general, said in a statement.
“The AFP generals and commanders who have the same anti-communist stance as Palparan are in key positions and are calling the shots. They even lauded Palparan’s campaign of terror against the so-called rebels that actually victimized unarmed civilians,” Palabay added.
“The arrest of Palparan will not improve the human rights situation in the Philippines as long as counter-insurgency programs are used to quell people’s dissent instead of addressing the root causes of the armed conflict,” she said.
Palabay cited the case of University of the Philippines graduates Guiller Cadano and Gerald Salonga, whom the police and military abducted and jailed on August 9.
Carlos Conde, the Philippine researcher for the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), said “Palparan’s arrest gives [President Benigno Aquino 3rd] an opportunity to make real progress on his long unfulfilled promise to end rights abuses in the Philippines.”
“That means ensuring that Palparan goes to trial without interference from powerful elements in the military who might seek to protect him,” Conde added.
PNA AND NEIL ALCOBER