Rene Acosta | Business Mirror
RETIRED general Jovito Palparan Jr. has asked the Court of Appeals (CA) to stop the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Bulacan from hearing the case involving the alleged enforced disappearances of two University of the Philippines students.
In a petition he filed through his lawyers before the CA, the fugitive general, who is being hunted by the government, asked the appellate court to issue a temporary restraining order to stop the trial being conducted by Judge Teodora Gonzales of Branch 14 of the RTC in Bulacan.
He was joined by another accused, retired MSgt. Rizal Hilario of the Army’s 24th Infantry Battalion, in his petition.
Palparan has been accused of involvement in the kidnapping, serious illegal detention and disappearances of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño six years ago.
Palparan questioned the omnibus order issued inApril and affirmed in July by Gonzales that resulted in the issuance of warrant of arrest and hold departure order against him and the finding of probable cause to indict him for kidnapping and serious illegal detention.
He asked the CA to nullify the ruling of the lower court and order another preliminary investigation by the Department of Justice.
Palparan claimed he and the other accused were deprived of due process because they were investigated by the DOJ for rape, serious physicial injuries, arbitrary detention, grave threat and other charges filed by mothers of Cadapan and Empeño, which did not include kidnapping serious illegal detention.
They alleged that indictment in court therefore was in violation of section 14 (1) article III of the Constitution and section 1 (b), Rule 115 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure.
“Clearly the right of petitioners to due process and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against them were violated. They were not given an opportunity to submit countervailing evidence to squarely refute the charge of kidnapping and serious illegal detention in violation of their right to due process,” Palparan and Hilario said.
The wanted general, who has a P2- million reward for his arrest, said allowing the trial to continue would result in irreparable damage and injury to him.
Palparan and Hilario were indicted by the DOJ in December last year, along with two other accused, SSgt. Edgardo Osorio and Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado of the 25th Infantry Battalion.
Anotado surrendered a few days after the RTC ordered their arrest.
The investigating DOJ panel gave weight to the testimonies of witnesses who were “able to establish that Sherlyn and Karen were kidnapped on June 26, 2006, and were last seen by witness Raymond Manalo detained up to around June 2007.”
Manalo, who claimed he was himself abducted by soldiers, said he saw several men abusing the students, including the use of water torture and electric shocks on Cadapan.
He testified in the writs of amparo and of habeas corpus cases for the two missing students before the CA in 2008.