Why Palparan still sleeps at ‘home’ and not Bilibid

Rambo Talabong
Why Palparan still sleeps at ‘home’ and not Bilibid

Carlo Gabuco

(UPDATED) Instead of detaining 'The Butcher' in the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, the military continues to keep Jovito Palparan in its custody

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Despite a court conviction, Palparan will still remain “home.”

Responding to criticism of the continued detention of retired Army Major General Jovito Palparan inside the Philippine Army Custodial Center in Fort Bonifacio* in Taguig City and not in the New Bilibid Prison, the armed forces on Monday, October 1, said it is merely following court orders.

“The AFP shares the aggrieved parties’ call for justice. In deferring the transfer, the AFP is not protecting MGen Palparan et al. It merely submits to the judicial processes already in place and running,” military spokesman Colonel Edgard Arevalo said in a statement.

Palparan was declared guilty on September 17 of kidnapping and serious illegal detention for the 2006 disappearance of University of the Philippines (UP) students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan.

What court orders? Aside from the Malolos, Bulacan Regional Trial Court Branch 15 which convicted him, Palparan is being tried for another case at the Malolos Regional Trial Court Branch 19 presided over by Judge Francisco Felizmenio.

Palparan is also facing kidnapping and illegal detention charges for the disappearance of the Manalo brothers, Raymond and Reynaldo

According to the military, Palparan’s lawyers appealed his conviction before Branch 15 a day after the ruling was handed down. Then on September 24, his lawyers reportedly filed an “urgent motion” to defer the implementation of Palparan’s detention order to Bilibid.

The court has not yet decided on the motions, but the military chose to keep Palparan inside Fort Bonifacio in the meantime.

What the AFP is doing now: The military has asked Branch 15 to determine “which commitment order prevails.”

Their manifestation was heard on September 28, the AFP said, but they did not disclose what transpired in the hearing.

Despite this, the military vowed that it “respects the law and pertinent judicial processes. It does not and will not frustrate any pursuit for justice.”

Special treatment? The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) condemned the continued detention of Palparan with his former comrades, tagging it as “special treatment.”

“Palparan and his military coddlers and lawyers are running circles around the judicial system and taunting civilian supremacy over the military by stalling his transfer on flimsy and nonsensical grounds bordering on brazen contempt of court,” NUPL president Edre Olalia said in a statement on Monday.

He added, “Such latest dilatory tactics undermine & mock law and justice by hiding & tagging behind the military skirt. Who is his protector and handler for him to deserve such extraordinary privilege and to be accorded special treatment?” – Rappler.com

(Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story said Palparan was detained in Camp Aguinaldo based on the AFP’s statement that it “desires to know which commitment order takes precedence and how the court will resolve the pending motion for continues detention this time to Camp Aguinaldo Detention Facility.” This has been corrected to the Philippine Army Custodial Center in Fort Bonifacio.)

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.