“If the defense is delaying the court proceedings so the families of Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan will eventually grow tired of seeking justice, the defense will fail,” said Aya Santos, Pamilya ng Desaparecidospara sa Katarungan (Desaparecidos) secretary general after the May 12 hearing at the Malolos Regional Trial Court of the criminal case of kidnapping and serious illegal detention against Retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, Col. Felipe Anotado, Staff Sgt. Edgar Osorio and M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario.
“The defense, headed by Attys. Joey Cruz and Abner Torres have been repeatedly disregarding court processes by failing to submit judicial affidavits five days before the scheduled hearing as required under the law,” said Santos. The two lawyers were already fined by the Court on February 10 for the same offense.
Defense claims that it is hard for them to physically produce their witnesses in court because they are deployed or assigned to different areas . “That was the same alibi Atty. Torres came up with last April 7 hearing,” Santos said. The defense have previously manifested in court that their witnesses do not have fare to go to Bulacan and appear in court. The defense presented yesterday Staff Sgt. Edgar Osorio as their witness.
“The military is obviously giving lame reasons to evade the law. Subpoenas have already been served by the court to the witnesses. It is not true they do not have the budget to transport their witnesses. All the AFP has to do is require their officers to be present in court for a day but they delay the proceedings on purpose either because they do not have witnesses to produce or they are still looking for fake witnesses to concoct stories, as what they have always been doing,” added Santos.
The defense started presenting their witnesses on September 2013 and successively postponed the hearings due to the absence of witnesses. They have since presented two witnesses—the accused themselves, Anotado and Osorio.
Atty. Torres said five witnesses are still lined up to testify in court for Osorio and Anotado but the court and the prosecution reminded them that they have until June 23 to produce their witnesses. After June 23, the presentation of witnesses of the defense will be deemed waived and the case is submitted for resolution.
“Mothers will always be mothers to their children, alive or not. And it means seeking for justice and putting rapists and murderers behind bars even if it takes a lifetime,” Santos said. “The military can come up with the same alibi in the succeeding hearings but we will not be fooled. Mrs. Empeno and Mrs. Cadapan will continue to seek justice,” Santos said.
The case of kidnapping and Illegal detention was filed on December 2011 by Erlinda Cadapan and Concepcion Empeño for the disappearance of their daughters Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan in June 26, 2006 in Bulacan. Anotado and Osorio remain on trial while Jovito Palparan is still at large.###