MALOLOS CITY: Families and lawyers of missing University of the Philippines (UP) students slammed the alleged special treatment of the Armed Forces of the Philippines given to retired major general Jovito Palparan who is accused of masterminding the abduction of activists Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño.
Edre Olalia, one of the private prosecutors, described the security arrangement for Palparan as “overacting” after at least a dozen military officers accompanied him inside the Malolos Regional Trial Court Branch 14 on Monday on the resumption of cross-examination of Raymond Manalo, a key witness in the abduction case.
“Isn’t funny that in a civilian court, with due respect to the judge, we believe it should not be allowed. Olalia told members of the media. “Ano ba ang ipinapakita nito? [What does this show?] Special. Special pa rin ang treatment [The treatment is still special].”
He noted that while everyone was sitting during the hearing, including the lawyers from both sides and Judge Teodora Gonzales herself, at least six to seven military officers were standing behind Palparan.
Olalia, the secretary-general from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, asked if these officers are armed saying that courts usually prohibit armed security aids.
Concepcion Empeño, mother of Karen, dismissed the alleged threats against Palparan as justification of his security aid, and said the government should give protection to the oppressed and not to the oppressor.
“Wala naming masasamang tao dun bukod kay Palparan. Dapat ang protektahan ng sundalo ay yung naaapi hindi yung nang-aapi [There is no other bad person inside the court room except for Palparan. The soldiers should protect the oppressed not the oppressor],” Empeño told The Manila Times after the hearing.
Concepcion and Erlinda Cadapan, mother of Sherlyn, said they do not even have security aides.