Palparan in Bulacan jail? De Lima cites ‘constraints’
MANILA, Philippines – Will retired Major General Jovito Palparan, the alleged brains behind the torture and disappearance of two student activists, await trial in a regular jail?
While there’s a standing court order to "immediately" commit the infamous retired general to the Bulacan Provincial Jail, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the government would first have to “absolutely ensure” his security.
“We are not in any way according accused Palparan any special treatment here, but it also remains our duty to absolutely ensure his security,” De Lima told reporters on Wednesday, August 13.
Malolos Regional Trial Court Judge Teodora Gonzales on Wednesday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to bring Palparan before the court, and afterwards to commit him to the Bulacan Provincial Jail “immediately upon receipt” of the order.
Late Wednesday afternoon, the NBI had yet to receive the order.
Palparan, on the run for over 3 years, was nabbed by the Armed Forces’ Naval Intelligence Group and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) at his safehouse in Sta Mesa, Manila on Tuesday, August 12. The former general, called “The Butcher” by leftist groups, has been the poster boy of human rights abuses in the military.
Palparan is currently in the custody of the NBI at its headquarters in Manila. (READ: Palparan's fall: 'Naisahan 'nyo ako,' he tells soldiers)
De Lima, who was on her way to attend the Justice Department’s budget hearing at the House of Representatives, said she would have to check the NBI’s capacity to bring Palparan to Bulacan. She added they also need to check the security conditions in the jail.
“Gustuhin man namin na mag-comply agad sa commitment order na 'yan ng korte, ay baka merong constraints at this point. So aalamin ko sa NBI kung kaya nila makapagcomply kaagad within the day,” added De Lima.
(Even if we want to comply with the commitment order right away, there might be constraints at this point. We need to find out from NBI if they will be able to immediately comply within the day.)
She said she would "really ask the honest opinion from the NBI if they can handle it."
The Justice Secretary added that Palparan’s lawyers may also file motions before the Malolos court.
“As the current custodian…the NBI doesn’t want to be blamed should anything bad happen to Palparan while he is in their custody,” De Lima added.
While De Lima was unable to give details on "verified threats" against Palparan, she said it was "common knowledge."
"It's even common sense that's because of [Palparan's] status in relation to groups that are very determined to make him face the consequences of these cases. And it could not even be that group. It could even be any group that would have any intention to embarrass this administration," added De Lima.
She said if something happens to Palparan while in government custody, this would be a "huge blow" to the Aquino administration.
De Lima pointed to "theories" being raised left and right, including suspicions that Palparan's arrest is allegedly meant to veer away public attention from the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) issue.
"So there seems to be an insinuation that we are conspiring with Major General Palparan. What a foolish insinuation. But you can never tell because of the political situation also, and then the volatile situation that we have, certain elements, sectors might exploit the situation and cause further problems to the administration," she said.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Palparan said he was willing to be detained anywhere, so long as officials could guarantee his security. "I don’t want to die in the hands of the enemy. That is my only main concern,” Palparan had said. –
Meanwhile, De Lima said that the state agents who tracked down Palparan are legally bound from availing of P2-million bounty on the military official's head. The amount, she said, would go to the private informant. – Rappler.com