Karen-She decision delayed anew
◢ Mark Verndick Cabading
The decision on the kidnapping and illegal detention cases of UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan has been delayed again after the camp of the defendants presented a new witness on their latest hearing on October 9, 2017 at the Malolos Regional Trial Court.
Primary suspect, Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan’s co-accused, Staff Sgt. Edgardo Osorio presented Lt. Col. Jose Navarro, Jr. as his fourth witness in the trial. Navarro is the Commanding Officer of the Intelligence Service Group (ISG) of the Philippine Army. He claimed that Osorio could not possibly be involved in the abduction of Karen and She.
Karen and She were abducted by military agents headed by Palparan on July 26, 2006 on their rented apartment in Hagonoy, Bulacan, while they were doing their thesis about peasants. The UP students have not been found, 11 years since their abduction.
In the trial, Navarro said that he issued a memorandum in July 2011 assigning Osorio to provide covert security to Palparan during the preliminary investigation of the case to the Department of Justice (DOJ). The memorandum was issued by the Philippine Army Headquarters upon the request of Palparan.
Even before the arrest of Palparan, Osorio has already failed several times in presenting his witnesses despite orders from the court. This has delayed the hearings multiple times, prompting the court to implement a “one day, one witness” policy on their camp, said Atty. Jun Oliva of National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), legal counsel of the mothers of Karen and She. Failure to present the witness on his set hearing date will be deemed a waiver.
“We hope that with the application of the said policy, the resolution of the cases will be expedited,” Oliva added. Osorio is expected to present his fifth and last witness on November 9. This is the last day Osorio can present all evidences against the case.
“Nakakainis nga. It takes time na mag-present. Previously, walang witness. Next schedule, wala silang attorney,” said Linda Cadapan regarding the delays of the hearing. Another witness named Sgt. Cruz has never appeared upon the court appear and will be given a subpoena by the Malolos Regional Trial Court.
Hearings have been furthered delayed because Osorio changed his legal counsel four times, Oliva said. A new counsel, Atty. Arturo Cabides, is expected to accompany Osorio on the November 9 trial.
Meanwhile, Palparan is scheduled to present his witnesses after Osorio’s trial ends with the court decision. During the preliminary conference of the case, Palparan listed 27 witnesses that will present on his behalf. This includes Osorio and his five witnesses. The prosecution however persists that no witnesses should be called back on the stand to testify for Palparan.
The Court of Appeals (CA) confirmed the kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges filed against Palparan on October 3. Oliva believes that Palparan would not be able to present the barangay officials as witnesses as they were already charged along with Palparan on a separate kidnapping and illegal detention case.
Meanwhile, Sgt. Rizal Hilario, one of the co-accused, still remains at large. The court has already issued a warrant of arrest for Hilario.
The mothers of Karen and She remain vigilant regarding the case. “Sobrang bagal ng takbo ng case. Several schedules na nasayang dahil dumarating sina Palparan pero walang attorney o walang witness. Hirap na ako bumiyahe to court pero hindi ako titigil hanggang promulgation,” said Cadapan. ◢
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