MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday ordered retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan and several other military officers to answer the criminal charges filed against them in connection with the enforced disappearance of two students of the University of the Philippines (UP) and a farmer on June 26, 2006 in Hagonoy, Bulacan.
Palparan and his co-respondents, namely, Lt. Col. Rogelio Boac; Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado; 2nd Lt. Francis Mirabelle Samson; Arnel Enriquez; M/Sgt. Donald Caigas; M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario were ordered to file their counter-affidavit and appear before a panel of prosecutors tasked to conduct a preliminary investigation of the case on July 8, 2011.
In Department Order No. 457, DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima has designated Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera, as chair of the panel, with Assistant State Prosecutors Irwin Maraya and Ethel Rea Suril as members.
De Lima ordered the panel to determine if there is probable cause to warrant the filing of charges against the respondents before the trial court.
Earlier, the Supreme Court (SC) had ordered the respondents to release from their custody the two missing UP student-activists, namely, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno and their farmer companion, Manuel Merino.
The SC affirmed the findings of the Court of Appeals (CA) that the officers of 7th infantry division of the Philippine Army, then under Palparan, could be behind the abduction of Cadapan, Empeno and Merino.
It said that the CA was correct in giving credence to the testimony of Raymond Manalo, who was able to identify some of the respondent military officers as the ones responsible for the abduction of the two UP students and Merino.
In their complaint filed before the DOJ, Erlinda Cadapan and Concepcion Empeño, mothers of the two UP students, specifically accused the respondents of committing rape, serious physical injuries, arbitrary detention, maltreatment, grave threats and grave coercion.
Likewise, the respondents were also accused of violating RA 7438, which defines the rights of persons under arrest and detention, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention Against Torture, and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. (PNA)