Rights group protests the series of postponements of the trial
and long-delayed resolution and of the People of the Philippines vs. Jovito Palparan Case


Regional Trial Court, Malolos, Bulacan


June 23, 2014





Photos courtesy of KARAPATAN PID


“Case nears resolution, but butcher Palparan still at large”
– mothers of missing UP students

MALOLOS , BULACAN – Mothers of missing UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan attended the court hearing today at the Malolos Regional Trial Court displeased. “The case of kidnapping and serious illegal detention against Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr et al nears its resolution, but the ‘Butcher’ general is still at-large,” said Linda Cadapan, mother of Sherlyn.

After this hearing, the case--which includes Col. Felipe Anotado, Staff Sgt. Edgar Osorio and M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario as respondents--should be submitted for resolution, the last time the Court would allow the defense to present its witness. Since September 2013, the defense was unable to bring to Court any witnesses, resulting to several postponements of the hearings.

“This should be the last time. We hope the defense will no longer be allowed to present witnesses. We are sick of the AFP’s lies and excuses. We appeal to the court not to fall for whatever lies they might have prepared today. The case should be submitted for resolution now,” said Connie Empeño, mother of Karen.

A protest action was simultaneously held outside the Malolos RTC to call for justice for Karen and Sherlyn. Rights groups Desaparecidos, Hustisya , Selda, Karapatan, as well as students of the Bulacan State University and Kilusang Mayo Uno joined the protest.

“All their maneuvers to delay court proceedings tell us only one thing: they do not have witnesses. They cannot counter the testimonies and evidences proving that the military abducted and tortured our daughters,” Erlinda Cadapan, mother of Sherlyn, said.

The mothers are positive that Anotado and Osorio, who are on trial, will be convicted. However, they said justice is not complete because two of the accused, Hilario and Palparan, are still at large.

“Their conviction (Anotado and Osorio) will just be a partial victory. As long as the Aquino government coddles Palparan and continues to be unaccountable for all he and his men did to our daughters and to other desaparecidos, we will continue to call for vigilance and support,” said Empeño.

June 26 will mark the eighth year of the abduction of Karen, Sherlyn and farmer Manuel Merino by Palparan’s men in Hagonoy, Bulacan.

“Palparan and his men cannot evade justice forever. It has been three years since we filed this case. For all these years, more were abducted and disappeared. The Aquino government has done nothing to arrest Palparan. We attest that we shall tirelessly seek justice, along with other victims,” said Cadapan.




Press Release
June 24, 2014

Reference: Marie Hilao Enriquez, Chairperson, 0917-5616800
Angge Santos, Media Liaison, 0918-9790580

Court grants military in Cadapan-Empeño case another trial date despite lack of witnesses, series of postponements—Karapatan


Karapatan lambasts the defense in the Cadapan-Empeño case for consistently delaying the proceedings since the case was filed in 2011. Yesterday’s hearing was supposed to be the last presentation of the defense’s witnesses, but RTC branch 14 Judge Teodora Gonzales of Malolos Bulacan allowed another date for the defense to present their witnesses for the“last time.” Judge Gonzales fined the defense several times and warned that the case will be deemed submitted for resolution if the defense fails to present their witnesses.

“Despite the obvious maneuver of the defense to postpone the proceedings, the court still gave them leeway. Is this fair for the families of Karen and Sherlyn who have been searching for justice for eight long years? How long should we wait for the military to gather its witnesses and present their testimonies to the Court?,” Karapatan Chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez said.

The Court allowed the request of the defense for a 15-minute break to prepare their judicial affidavits on the spot. It also allowed accused Col. Felipe Anotado to take the witness stand. On cross-examination of Prosecution lawyer Julian Oliva, Anotado insisted there is no military camp in Limay, Bataan, only a military detachment.

Witness Raymond Manalo during earlier hearings testified he was detained at the said camp/detachment. But, Anotado argued he never met Raymond Manalo, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño nor heard any news regarding their abduction.

“Anotado and other accused in this case are lying through their teeth. What they are giving us is a gamut of alibis and denials that are not supported by evidence. They do not have competent witnesses that’s why they keep on delaying the proceedings. Are they running out of hired witnesses?,” said Hilao-Enriquez.

“Justice remains elusive for Karen and Sherlyn especially that Palparan is still on the run. We express our outrage on this kind of justice system that only favors the privileged. But we will never stop seeking justice for Karen and Sherlyn and all victims of human rights violations in and out of court until the perpatrators are jailed and punished,” Hilao-Enriquez concluded.

Families and supporters of Sherlyn and Karen will commemorate the 8th year of their abduction on June 26. ###




JUNE 24, 2014

Defense witnesses in abduction case of 2 UP students no show again

After the prosecution presented several eyewitnesses in the abduction of Karen and Sherlyn, the defense was given several opportunities to present their own witnesses. Not one has been presented since.


MALOLOS, Bulacan – For the nth time, the defense failed to present any of its witnesses in the continuing hearings on the enforced disappearance of University of the Philippines (UP) students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan.

In a hearing June 23 at the Bulacan Regional Trial Court Branch 14, Abner Torres, lawyer of the one of the accused, said their witness Gen. Herbert Yambing purportedly had to attend turnover ceremonies at the Department of National Defense and another witness is in Mindanao.

Five military officers, including retired Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr., have been charged with kidnapping and serious illegal detention in relation to the disappearance of Karen and Sherlyn almost eight years ago. Palparan and Master Sgt. Rizal Hilario have yet to be arrested while two of the accused – Col. Felipe Anotado Jr. and Staff Sgt. Edgardo Osorio – surrendered to authorities after the issuance of the warrants of arrest in December 2011. Master Sgt. Donald Caigas, the other accused, is already dead.

“You are delaying the presentation of your evidence,” Judge Teodora Gonzales of Bulacan RTC Branch 22 told Torres. Gonzales said there is no need to present Yambing because the only fact to be presented by Yambing is regarding the assignment of Anotado.

State Prosecutor Irwin Maraya said the court should terminate the presentation of evidence. “It is unfortunate that the witnesses are not here. The court has given them a deadline and the prosecution has not objected in the past… The presentation of evidence [for the defense] started last year.”

Members of human rights group Karapatan stage a protest outside the Bulacan Regional Trial Court in Malolos, Bulacan, June 23. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea/ Bulatlat.com)
Members of human rights group Karapatan stage a protest outside the Bulacan Regional Trial Court in Malolos, Bulacan, June 23. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea/ Bulatlat.com)
The hearings started in January 2012. After the prosecution presented several eyewitnesses in the abduction of Karen and Sherlyn, the defense was given several opportunities to present their own witnesses. Not one has been presented since.

Torres said they have four witnesses to present but the defense has only submitted Yambing’s judicial affidavit and that of respondent Osorio. Torres said the defense is still preparing the affidavits of three other witnesses.

Gonzales then asked the defense to present Anotado, one of the accused, who had neither taken the witness stand nor submitted his judicial affidavit. Initially, Torres hesitated, saying they have yet to formalize Anotado’s judicial affidavit. Gonzales said the defense could refer to the counter-affidavit submitted by Anotado to the Department of Justice (DOJ) during the preliminary investigation of the case.

Anotado then took the witness stand.

In his affidavit, the Army colonel said he served as battalion commander of the 24th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army from Nov. 15, 2005 to Feb. 1, 2008. He also claimed he never met Raymond Manalo, the key witness, and that he had no knowledge about the forcible abduction of Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan.

Anotado further claimed that he did not know the two other suspects Caigas and Hilario and that the two were not assigned with the 24th IB.

Anotado also denied the existence of a military camp in Limay, Bataan but admitted that the unit had established a military detachment in Duale village, Limay Bataan. He said the fences were made of bamboo, barbed wire and that all the activities there could be seen from the outside.

Manalo, in his testimony before the court on Nov. 28, 2012, said he saw Anotado visit the 24th IB’s military camp in Limay, Bataan three times. During the first visit, Manalo said, Anotado went straight to the stock room where Karen and Sherlyn were locked up and stayed there for one hour. He said Anotado also spoke to him and to farmer Manuel Merino. “He told us to change our ways once we are freed,” Manalo said.

During the cross examination, lawyer Julian Oliva Jr. of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) noted that a certification from the barangay captain (village chieftain) in Duale described the so-called detachment as a “military camp.”

Anotado said the barangay captain is a civilian and he did not know that the military set up was only a detachment. Oliva said, “A civilian then would not be able to differentiate a camp and a detachment.”



Oliva asked Anotado if the detachment had thick foliage, reminding the latter of his statement that it was located near Mt. Limay. Anotado answered in the affirmative, saying there were mango trees.

Oliva then asked Anotado how often he visited the detachment in Limay. Anotado said he went there only once, after he received a report about the abduction of the two UP students.

“When did you learn about the report?” Oliva asked. Anotado said it was only when he received a subpoena during the writ of amparo hearing at the Court of Appeals.

Oliva recounted to Anotado how Manalo, in a hearing at the appellate court on January 28, 2008, positively identified him. “He saw you and pointed at you as one of those who detained him.”

To this, Anotado said in Filipino, “I was surprised why he pointed at me. I don’t even know him.”

Upon hearing Anotado’s denial, Karen’s mother Concepcion Empeño murmured, “How could Raymond not point at him? He knows him.”

Gonzales gave the defense another opportunity to present all their witnesses on August 18.

Asked for her reaction, Sherlyn’s mother Erlinda Cadapan said in Filipino, “I thought I would be able to sleep soundly at last and wait for the resolution of the case. I was mistaken. This is yet another form of torture.” ( http://bulatlat.com )