Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has found probable cause to sue retired Army general Jovito Palparan for the kidnapping and serious illegal detention of the Manalo brothers whom the military had tagged as members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
Palparan is in detention and is being tried before the Bulacan Regional Trial Court for arbitrary detention, torture and rape of Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, both students of the University of the Philippines, who remain missing.
The case of the Manalo brothers has a bearing on Palparan’s case over Empeño and Cadapan’s alleged disappearance.
Raymond Manalo testified in court that he had witnessed the torture and rape of the two students while he was allegedly detained by the military.
According to the resolution, criminal and administrative charges against former Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr. were dismissed for insufficiency of evidence and in view of his retirement before the case was filed.
The Ombudsman, moreover, dropped the administrative charges against Palparan and Maj. Gen. Juanito Gomez also in view of both their retirement before the case was filed and the latter’s death.
Palparan however, would still not be given an Ombudsman’s clearance because of a pending case against him.
He and eight others face indictment for two counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention
The Ombudsman ordered the dismissal from the service of the general’s eight co-accused after they were also found administratively liable for grave misconduct.
Their retirement benefits were also forfeited and they were perpetually disqualified from public service.
The eight were identified as M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario and M/Sgt. Donald Caigas and Cafgu active auxiliaries Michael dela Cruz, Marcelo dela Cruz, Jose dela Cruz, Maximo dela Cruz, Randy Mendoza, Roman dela Cruz and Rudy Mendoza.
Cafgu refers to the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit, a militia organized in remote villages to help the military in anti-insurgency operations.
The criminal charges against Gen. Gomez and Caigas were dismissed after their death.
Palparan, who was commander of the 7th Infantry Division, was labeled by left-leaning activists as the “Butcher” for allegedly being behind numerous human rights violations in Central Luzon.
He was also tagged behind the disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos, son of pre-martial law Manila Times ace reporter Jose G. Burgos.
Palparan was principally accused of ordering the arrest of Reynaldo and Raymond Manalo on February 14, 2006 in San Ildefonso, Bulacan, on suspicion that they are members of the communist NPA.
The two were allegedly detained and were tortured by the respondents until they managed to escape on August 13, 2007.
The resolution said the Manalo brothers had positively identified the perpetrators whose “concerted acts show that they agreed, expressly or impliedly, to commit the felony and forthwith decided to pursue it.”
The Ombudsman, moreover, directed the Deputy Ombudsman for Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices to conduct a fact-finding investigation on the other military personnel and victims cited in the complaint-affidavit.