Raps filed vs Palparan for enforced disappearances
By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News
Posted at 05/04/2011 12:30 PM | Updated as of 05/04/2011 7:05 PM
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - The mothers of missing University of the Philippines (UP) students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño filed criminal charges today against retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, Jr. and 6 others before the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the enforced disappearance of the two students in June, 2006.
Erlinda Cadapan and Concepcion Empeno filed a joint complaint affidavit against Palparan, Lt. Col. Rogelio Boac, Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado, 2Lt. Francis Mirabelle Samson, Arnel Enriquez, Master Sergeant Donald Caigas, Master Sergeant Rizal Hilario, and several "John Does" and "Jane Does."
Respondents are being charged for the following offenses:
-serious physical injuries;
-maltreatment of prisoners;
-violation of Republic Act(RA) 7438, also known as "An Act Defining Certain Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained or Under Custodial Investigation as well as the Duties of the Arresting, Detaining and Investigating Officers, and Providing Penalties for Violations thereof; and
-violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Cadapan and Empeño were reportedly forcibly taken by armed men wearing bonnets on June 26, 2006 from the house of a certain Raquel Halili in Barangay San Miguel, Hagonoy, Bulacan.
Cadapan is a senior Bachelor of Sports Science student at UP Diliman College of Human Kinetics and a tri-athlete.
Empeño is a senior BA Sociology student of UP Diliman College of Social Sciences and Philosophy.
The complaint alleged Cadapan and Empeño were forcibly taken on suspicion of being New People's Army (NPA) Rebels.
Witnesses tag Palparan's men
Their abductors were identified by witnesses as elements of the Philippine Army based in the 56th Infantry Battalion headquarters in Barangay Iba, Hagonoy, Bulacan under the command of then Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, Jr.
Some of these witnesses were allegedly detained in the same military detachments/camps where Cadapan and Empeño were held, and allegedly saw how both were tortured and maltreated.
"The allegations stated in this Joint Complaint Affidavit clearly established conspiracy, i.e. not only the individual liability of those who carried out the focible taking, torture and rape, but also the criminal liability of the military officers who are impleaded in this case... SHERYLN AND KAREN’S disappearance was planned and carried out, and their torture and rape inflicted by and under the orders, knowledge and acquiescence of Lt. Col. Rogelio Boac, then commanding officer of the 56th Infantry Battalion and Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado, then commanding officer of the 24th Infantry Battalion, both under the direct command, order, and supervision of Maj. General Jovito Palparan Jr., commanding general of the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army who in turn himself directly participated as well as instigated, induced, cooperated or otherwise aided and abetted in the planning, preparation, execution or cover-up of these crimes," the complaint read.
"We included Maj. Gen. Palparan as one of the respondents in this case on the basis of the eyewitnesses and the testimonies of our witnesses who are willing to testify before the courts that (Maj. Gen.) Palparan has direct participation and even induced the military under his command to commit (a) series of human rights violations against Karen and Sherlyn. We have strong evidence against him as can be shown in the testimonies of our witnesses that's why we are charging him for rape and also arbitrary detention, grave coercion and other criminal law violations," said Atty. Cris Yambot, complainants' lawyer.
DOJ to give due importance
The DOJ assured the case will be given due importance considering that it is a case of alleged human rights violations being monitored by the international human rights community.
"With the filing of this joint complaint affidavit, you can expect that the department(of justice) will thoroughly study this and will properly handle the case because... as you know, the accountability that the Filipino people are trying to exact from the previous administration,from the previous officials - both civilian and military - are not only in the area of graft and corruption, but also, equally important, in the area of human rights violations -gross, grave and serious human rights violations," Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said upon receipt of the complaint.
"Malaki ang pag-asa po namin na maso-solve ang aming problema sa pamumuno ng ating madam Leila de Lima kasi po, naniniwala kami, na (sa) kanyang pagiging human rights advocate at defender, malaki po pag-asa namin," complainant Empeno said.
"Sa araw pong ito kami ay naghahain dine sa DOJ ng isang legal remedy pa na, we believe, dapat po namin gagawin hanggang po namin makakamtan ang tagumpay ng paghahanap namin sa aming mga anak na ang pagkakaalam po namin, yung may kasalanan po nito ay security state forces ng ating bansa," complainant Cadapan said.
Burgos, HR groups back victims
Outside the DOJ, human rights groups, among them, Karapatan, picketed in support of complainants.
Mrs. Edita Burgos, mother of Jonas Burgos, allegedly also forcibly taken by the military, was also present to give her support to Mrs. Cadapan and Mrs. Empeño.
The case will be assigned to a panel of prosecutors or to a handling prosecutor who will conduct the preliminary investigation to determine whether there is probable cause to file the informations in court.
Palparan has yet to receive a copy of the complaint.