MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) vowed to continue providing legal assistance to retired Army Major General Jovito Palparan, who was found guilty of kidnapping and serious illegal detention in the 2006 disappearance of University of the Philippines (UP) students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan.
Asked for the military’s response to the guilty verdict, Army chief Lieutenant General Rolando Bautista told Rappler in a text message: “The Philippine Army will abide by the rule of law and we will extend the necessary support to the accused military personnel on the legal procedures that will prove his or their innocence.”
The Malolos Regional Trial Court Branch 15 on Monday, September 17, sentenced Palparan to life imprisonment. Shouting back at the judge, Palparan maintained his innocence.
He said he was not ready to spend his life in jail and would appeal the verdict. (READ: Palparan says he’s not ready for life imprisonment)
Charged with human rights violations that they committed when in active service, Palparan and his co-accused were provided assistance by the military in terms of documentation, logistics, and other steps they needed in their defense.
Palparan’s co-accused Lieutenant Colonel Felipe Anotado and S/Sgt Edgardo Osorio were also found guilty of kidnapping and serious illegal detention.
In a statement, military spokesperson Colonel Edgard Arevalo said the armed forces submit "to the majesty of the courts and respect for the rule of law."
Arevalo however stressed that they will also allow Palparan and the two other soldiers to seek all legal options still available to them.
Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Louie Villanueva likewise said the military would abide by the court’s decision regardless of Palaparan’s former rank in the military.
Palparan is widely known for his key assignments in Mindoro, Samar and central Luzon, where he served as commanding general of the military's 7th infantry division between 2005 and 2006 – the height of the Arroyo administration's massive counter-insurgency campaign that targeted the communist New People's Army.
Palparan will be committed to the maximum security compound of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) after spending 4 years in the custodial center of Fort Bonifacio in Taguig where he was jailed as he was put on trial in Malolos.
Prior to his arrest in 2014, Palparan spent 3 years in hiding and was arrested at an apartment above a bakery in Sta Mesa, Manila. – Rappler.com