Mom of missing UP student still hoping, praying

Concepcion Empeño (center) and Erlinda Cadapan, mothers of missing UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan hold pictures of their daughters during a meeting with Sen. Mar Roxas. RODEL ROTONI/INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Concepcion Empeño (center) and Erlinda Cadapan, mothers of missing UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan hold pictures of their daughters during a meeting with Sen. Mar Roxas. RODEL ROTONI/INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Allan Macatuno |
October 30, 2014

SUBIC, Philippines—With no grave to visit, the mother of Karen Empeño, one of two students of the University of Philippines missing since 2006, will observe All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day with hopes and prayers to find closure for her daughter’s fate.

Despite the pain, Concepcion Empeño, 65, said she has good memories with her daughter, who, along with Sherlyn Cadapan, was abducted allegedly by soldiers in Bulacan province in 2006.

Empeño, a school principal at the Culiat Elementary School in Barangay (village) Culiat in Masinloc town, Zambales province, said her daughter was “very friendly” and would always bring her friends to their house.

She said she would join other families and relatives of the missing or the disappeared on Nov. 2 at Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, Manila, to offer prayers and flowers and light candles for their loved ones.

She said they would also write Pope Francis, who will visit the country in January, to seek his help in achieving justice for their missing family members.

“I will bring a photograph of my daughter for that gathering. Although it seems like we’re doing this for the departed, still I don’t want to think that she’s gone forever,” she said. “I’m still waiting for Karen [to come home].”

‘Coward,’ missing students’ moms call Palparan after ex-general seeks to remain at NBI

"I wonder where Palparan gets his arrogance. What victory has he achieved in the battlefield against the New People's Army? All those areas where he was assigned as commander are still considered by the military as strongholds of the NPA."  - Aya Santos, Secretary General, Desaparecidos | Philippine News Agency
August 14, 2014

MANILA, Philippines — The mothers of two University of the Philippines students whose abduction and disappearance retired Army general Jovito Palparan is charged with called him a “coward” on Thursday after he sought to remain in detention at the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila.

Duwag si Palparan, sinungaling pa (Palparan is a coward and a liar),” Linda Cadapan and Connie Empeno said in a statement.

Palparan is facing kidnapping with serious illegal detention charges for the 2006 abduction of their daughters Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno in Bulacan.

The former general, dubbed the “Butcher” by human rights activists who accuse him of the rash of human rights abuses in areas where he served as military commander, was captured by the NBI and naval intelligence in Sta. Mesa, Manila on Tuesday after almost three years in hiding.

Soon after his arrest, he said he was willing to be jailed anywhere and would not seek special treatment as he maintained he was innocent of the charges against him.

Despite his controversial reputation, top military officials were quick to praise him after his arrest, citing his exploits in the service, and said soldiers even call Palparan “idol.”

On Wednesday, Judge Teodora Gonzales of Malolos Regional Trial Court Branch 14 ordered the NBI to present Palparan personally and for him to be detained at the Bulacan provincial jail.

However, on Thursday, Palparan’s lawyer, Narzal Mallares, filed the “urgent ex parte” asking that the former general be allowed to remain at the NBI because of alleged plans by the New People’s Army to assassinate him.

Reacting to Palparan’s bid, the two mothers said: “Sinabi niyang handa siyang makulong kahit saan. Pero ngayon, gusto na naman niyang suwayin ang korte (He said he was prepared to be jailed anywhere. But now he is again defying the court).

They also recalled that, before the warrant for his arrest was issued, “sinabi rin niyang handa siyang harapin ang mga kasong isinampa. Sa halip pinagtaguan niya ito nang tatlong taon (he said he was ready to face the charges against him. Instead, he hid for almost three years).”

In the event the court grants Palparan his motion, they said, “mukhang lumalabo na naman ang hustisyang hinahangad naming (it would seem the justice we have been seeking will dim again).”

Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, which is helping prosecute Palparan, said they would oppose the motion during the former general’s arraignment on Monday, August 18.

Olalia said the law requires an accused person to be detained at the police station detention cell or jail nearest the court trying the case.

He said the NBI, the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology are capable of protecting Palparan in detention.

Olalia also added that it would be more difficult to secure Palparan every time he has to travel from the NBI headquarters to Bulacan for hearings instead of if he is detained at the Bulacan jail, which is just a stone’s throw from the court.

EDITORIAL – Saved from disappearing


 (The Philippine Star) | continuing abductions of activists

This time at least the students did not disappear, never to be found again.

A student and a graduate of the University of the Philippines were taken by Army soldiers last Saturday in Carranglan, Nueva Ecija on suspicion that they were members of the New People’s Army. The story of UP psychology student Gerard Salonga and business management graduate Guiller Martin Cadano raised fears among their friends that they would suffer the fate of UP coeds Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan. The two girls were taken by soldiers in 2006 also in Nueva Ecija. A witness said the two were tortured before they disappeared. Their whereabouts remain unknown.

The failure to establish what happened to the two coeds – and to the many other Filipino desaparecidos – surely emboldens soldiers with a certain mindset to continue resorting to such methods in their operations. After a United Nations rapporteur on human rights said the military was in denial about rights violations attributed to state forces in this country, the Armed Forces insisted that all the questionable activities were part of legitimate counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations.

The military general accused of involvement in the kidnapping and torture of Empeño and Cadapan, Jovito Palparan, is at large and is believed to be enjoying the protection of certain military elements that believe his methods are necessary evils in the name of national security.

This mindset can again be felt in the case of Salonga and Cadano who say they were framed by the military on charges of illegal possession of weapons and explosives. Colleagues at least searched relentlessly for the two students until they were found. Unless sanctions are imposed on those who engage in these activities, however, the nation is likely to see more desaparecidos like Empeño and Cadapan.