by Ronalyn V. Olea, Bulatlat.com
MANILA – A close-in security of retired Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. has been identified by one of the witnesses as one of those who abducted University of the Philippines students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño and farmer Manuel Merino.
In a supplemental affidavit submitted to the Department of Justice (DOJ) panel, August 3, Wilfredo Ramos said the man who was wearing a blue shirt and shades and seated immediately at the back of Palparan during the last hearing on July 19 was part of the team that took Cadapan, Empeño and Merino from their house in San Miguel, Hagonoy, Bulacan on June 26, 2006.
During the third hearing of the preliminary investigation on the criminal charges filed against Palparan and other military officials, Provost Marshal General Col. Herbert Yambing admitted to the DOJ panel that the man being referred to by Ramos is a member of the Philippine Army and is assigned to provide security for Palparan during court hearings. Yambing, however, said he does not know the name of the soldier. A photograph of the soldier is attached to the supplemental affidavit.
Asked what unit is providing security for Palparan, Yambing responded it is the AFP’s Headquarters Service Group.
Palparan was not present in the recent hearing and so was his aide.
DOJ panel head Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera ordered Yambing to produce the personal circumstances of Palparan’s aide and to coordinate with the lawyers of the complainants.
Lawyer Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), said the still unnamed soldier is among the “John Does” in the complaint filed by the mothers of the two missing UP students.
In May, Erlinda Cadapan and Concepcion Empeño, mothers of the two UP students, filed the criminal complaint against Palparan and other retired and active military officials for arbitrary detention, maltreatment of prisoners, grave threats, and grave coercion, rape, and serious physical injuries.
In his affidavit, Ramos who was only 14 years old at the time of the incident, said the said soldier was the one who hogtied him and his father William Ramos on June 26, 2006. During the July 19 hearing, Ramos said the man gave him a dagger look.
In the July 19 hearing, Olalia asked the DOJ panel to allow Ramos to point at and ask the identity of one of the abductors. Navera denied the motion, saying it is not an evidence-gathering party.
Olalia said the presence of one of the abductors during the last hearing was “the height of brazenness and arrogance.” “One of the alleged but still unnamed perpetrators had the gall and temerity to go to the hearing and display himself, intimidating and eyeing Ramos all throughout the hearing. He was openly thumbing his nose, as it were, at the whole justice system,” Olalia said.
In their joint reply affidavit, Mrs. Cadapan and Mrs. Empeño said Palparan’s counter-affidavit contains merely bare and general denials.
“Palparan’s self-righteous indignation and refutation of the charges cannot exempt him from criminal liability for the cruel treatment of Karen and Sherlyn while in custody,” they said.
They added that the fact that Karen and Sherlyn were being transferred from one military camp to another under the command of different military units but all under the 7th Infantry Division establishes conspiracy among the respondent and connivance of the whole military establishment under the 7th ID.
The mothers of the two missing UP students also said mere suspicion of being New People’s Army (NPA) members does not justify extra legal abduction, forced disappearance and violation of the rights of Sherlyn and Karen.
The two mothers also belied claims by other respondents Lt. Col. Rogelio Boac, Col. Felipe Anotado, M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario and 2nd Lt. Francis Mirabelle Samson.
In a statement, key witness Raymond Manalo said, “For a number of times, our statements have been proven true by the Courts. They could no longer hide the truth so they just deny it, and try to destroy our credibility.”
Lawyers of the complainants also manifested that the respondent Arnel E. Enriquez who appeared in court hearings was not among those who abducted the students.
Another witness Alberto Ramirez said Enriquez was not the same “Arnel Enriquez” who took part in the abduction.Lawyers asked for the removal of Enriquez in the complaint but insisted that a certain alias Arnel Enriquez be retained as one of the respondents. (http://bulatlat.com)