COURT JUNKS PALPARAN APPEAL TO REVERSE CONVICTION
MANILA -- A Malolos Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge turned down the motion for reconsideration filed by retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan appealing his conviction for the disappearance of two University of the Philippines (UP) students in 2006.
In a two-page order dated Oct. 19 and released on Thursday (Nov. 15) by Malolos RTC Branch 15 Presiding Judge Alexander Tamayo, the court said Palparan failed to raise new arguments that would warrant the court’s reversal of its decision which sentenced him, along with Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado, Jr. and S/Sgt. Edgardo Osorio, to imprisonment of up to 40 years.
"Finding no additional and/or new points raised to outweigh the settled position of the court, the motion for reconsideration ...is denied for merit," the court said, adding that "the motion for reconsideration offer(s) no justification to compel this court to modify or reverse the assailed decision dated September 17, 2018".
The court also denied Palparan’s supplemental motion seeking reconsideration of the penalty imposed on him due to presence of mitigating circumstances, particularly his “voluntary surrender.”
It explained that the crime of kidnapping with serious illegal detention under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) as amended by Republic Act 7659 (which imposes death penalty on heinous crimes) is punishable with reclusion perpetua to death which is an indivisible penalty.
It added under Article 63 of RPC, when the commission of the act is attended by some mitigating circumstances and there is no aggravating circumstance, the lesser penalty shall be applied.
“The penalty being indivisible, the lesser penalty is reclusion perpetua. Thus, whether the mitigating circumstance is appreciated, still, the lesser penalty to be imposed is reclusion perpetua,” the court pointed out.
In its original decision, the court also directed the accused to pay PHP300,000 each in civil indemnity and moral damages to the families of UP students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño who were abducted from a house in Barangay San Miguel, Hagonoy, Bulacan on June 26, 2006.
In indicting Palparan for kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges, the Department of Justice (DOJ) maintained he had a direct hand in the detention of the two UP students based on the testimony of Raymond Manalo, a farmer.
Manalo and his brother Reynaldo were also abducted by alleged military officers from their respective houses in San Ildefonso, Bulacan in 2006. He said they were detained for more than one year in various military camps in Southern Luzon before managing to escape on August 13, 2007.
During their detention, Manalo said he met and managed to talk to the two missing UP students, who were also being detained by Palparan’s men. Raymond further narrated that she saw Cadapan and Empeño being subjected to torture by their captors.
The Court of Appeals (CA) ruled in 2007 that Manalo's testimony was “clear, consistent and convincing” as it ordered the Armed Forces to produce the bodies of the students. (PNA)
Photo from Reuters/Al Jazeera