Palparan has been getting ‘special treatment’ at Bilibid for 3 years


(2nd UPDATE) Palparan has a pending criminal charge in Bulacan, separate from the sentence he is serving in Bilibid. Why did BuCor act alone in granting SMNI an interview with him?

MANILA, Philippines — The two-hour on-camera interview with retired General Jovito Palparan, a convicted kidnapper, conducted inside New Bilibid prison was just the latest in a series of special treats that granted to him by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), the National Union of Peoples Lawyers (NUPL) said.

The NUPL, private prosecutors in the case that convicted Palparan, wrote to BuCor on Friday, April 1, and said the interview “clearly demonstrates that the defendant, Major General Palparan, enjoys special privileges and preferential treatment even though he is already serving his sentence for the crimes of which he was convicted.”

The letter detailed past incidents of Palparan not being immediately transferred to the maximum security complex where he was supposed to be held because he had been sentenced to perpetual confinement.

Palparan was found guilty of kidnapping and serious unlawful detention following the 2007 disappearance of student activists Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan. Branch 15 of the Malolos Regional Court of First Instance sentenced him to life imprisonment in September 2018, but only transferred to Bilibid a month later.

In Bilibid, Palparan first stayed at the Directorate of Reception and Diagnosis (DRD) where all convicts are assessed for days or even weeks before being transferred to their respective quarters. According to NUPL, the maximum stay at the DRD is 60 days but Palparan stayed there “over a year”.

It was only after prosecutors wrote a court protest that Palparan was removed from the DRD, NUPL said. But lawyers said he was not sent to the maximum security compound.

“We have received information that the accused, Major General Palparan, has not been transferred to the maximum security center, but to the minimum security center of the new Bilibid prison, the detention and detention area prisoners sentenced to light sentences or about to be released. and/or already considered ‘living’ prisoners,” NUPL said.

Palparan was a decorated general for his implementation of Gloria Arroyo’s counterinsurgency campaign. He gained notoriety through his postings in Mindoro, Samar and Central Luzon, which earned him the nickname Berdugo or The Butcher of human rights activists.

The SMNI interview featured Palparan with the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), part of the government’s publicity campaign against activists and progressives. SMNI was used as a platform for red tagging. It belongs to self-proclaimed pastor Apollo Quiboloy, wanted in the United States for child sex trafficking.

What are the rules?

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the SMNI interview was conducted without the knowledge of the Justice Department or the DOJ or Malolos RTC Branch 15. Guevarra sent his undersecretary to investigate.

Justice Undersecretary for Corrections Deo Marco visited BuCor on Friday and told Rappler that MNCH’s request had been approved by BuCor chief executive Gerald Bantag. Marco said he always gets a copy of the letters to see if it’s following protocol.

Can BuCor act alone in this case? Guevarra said the “rule was unclear” since a convict is technically already under the BuCor and not under the court.

We have requested a copy of BuCor’s operations manual, but the DOJ has not given us one yet.

A 2000 version of the manual stated that the BuCor could deny a request for an interview if the convict had an ongoing criminal case.

Palparan has a separate case pending for kidnapping and serious unlawful detention and serious bodily harm filed against him by Raymond Manalo, who also served as a witness that Palparan abducted Cadapan and Empeño. It is pending before branch 19 of the Malolos RTC.

Guevarra also said earlier that if Palparan appeals his conviction in the Cadapan and Empeño case, “it could impact jurisdiction.”

Rappler confirmed that the appeal is pending before the Court of Appeals.

Asked about the implications of these ongoing cases, Guevarra simply replied: “Let’s wait for the BUCOR report on Monday.

The pending cases raise the question of whether it should have been BuCor’s sole discretion to grant SMNI’s request for maintenance.

For detainees who have not yet been convicted but are detained, the courts in charge of their trial issue the authorization.

By contrast, Senator Leila De Lima – who has yet to be convicted – was only allowed by the courts to be interviewed on the condition that journalists bring only a pen and paper to take grades. To date, no cameras or other similar recording devices had been authorized for an interview with De Lima, a sitting senator seeking re-election.

De Lima was justice secretary when Palparan was indicted and brought to trial. Palparan mentioned De Lima in his interview to accuse the former justice secretary of irregularities in handling his case.

In a dispatch from his cell at Camp Crame, De Lima said they were all lies and added: “I was already detained when Palparan was found guilty of his crimes. So spare us the nonsense I had anything to do with it politically.

Reporters who cover the Beat of Justice go through tons of processes to gain access to detainees for stories; and at one point in the De Lima trial in Muntinlupa, had to write to the Supreme Court because a judge banned the media from covering a public trial.

DOJ officials were also present during De Lima’s recent court-approved interviews to block questions they considered sub judice.-


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