Lawyers press military to transfer Palparan to Bilibid

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Why is retired army major general Jovito Palparan still inside a military camp in Fort Bonifacio?

The Philippine Army  (PA) said on Tuesday, September 25, that it would keep custody of Palparan while an appeal is pending before the Malolos Regional Trial Court (RTC) that convicted the general.

"The Philippine Army for its part have already filed/submitted a motion clarifying to the honorable court re appropriate disposition of General Palparan. Upon receipt of order from the court re said clarification, the PA will immediately implement such order," said army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Louie Villanueva.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), which represented the families of University of the Philippines (UP) student activists Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, said on Monday, September 24, that the military is acting in contempt of a court order to transfer Palparan to the New Bilibid Prison.

Malolos, Bulacan Regional Trial Court Branch 15 had issued a commitment order to transfer Palparan to Bilibid on the same day (September 17) that the guilty verdict was handed out against him for kidnapping and serious illegal detention.

Palparan's lawyer asked in open court on September 17 that the transfer be put off because the retired general still has a pending case in another branch at the Malolos RTC related to the abduction of Raymond Manalo, who acted as witness in the Cadapan and Empeño case. (READ: Palparan says he’s not ready for life imprisonment)

Tamayo said that the pending case is not his concern, as Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors insisted that Supreme Court rules state that a convicted felon should be committed to the proper jail, in this case, Bilibid. 

The 68-year-old Palparan has been detained at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig for 4 years since being on trial. He has been convicted and sentenced to reclusion perpetua or up to 40 years in prison.

“The military and his coddlers are liable for contempt of court for open defiance or disobedience to an explicit judicial order to immediately commit the convict to the National Penitentiary as all convicted felons are,” said Edre Olalia, the president of the NUPL. (READ: How are the Jonas Burgos and Palparan cases different?)

Olalia said the delay of transfer “is not only brazen impunity but is also open disrespect that undermines the justice system all the more and validates well-founded fears the Army has something up its sleeves.”

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the DOJ prosecutors “cannot directly tell the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to expedite the transfer.”

“Our prosecutors can press the issue with the court, and the court will direct the AFP to enforce its order,” said Guevarra.

Tamayo also committed to Bilibid Lieutenant Colonel Felipe Anotado and Staff Sergeant Edgardo Osorio who were also convicted of kidnapping and serious illegal detention for the 2006 disappearance of Cadapan and Empeño. 

The NUPL said that after the Palparan conviction, they will target next the general’s commander-in-chief at the time, former president and now House Speaker Gloria Arroyo.

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.