THE COURT of Appeals (CA) has upheld a trial court’s ruling convicting Jovito S. Palparan, Jr., a retired army general, and two other military officers of kidnapping two students in 2006.
In a 61-page decision on May 31, the CA First Division ruled that the testimonies of the witnesses were credible and clear.
“The details in their testimonies prove that they actually saw the victims and that they got acquainted with them,” according to a copy of the ruling written by CA Associate Justice Angeline Mary W. Quimpo-Sale.
“The inconsistencies involve minor matters which are irrelevant and immaterial to the case and do not affect the established elements of the crime charged,” said the appellate court.
“These inconsistencies actually indicate that the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses were not rehearsed.”
The retired army general and his accomplices were also ordered to pay P100,000 in civil indemnity and P200,000 for moral damages.
The case involves the abduction of two students from the University of the Philippines in 2006, at the height of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s campaign against communist rebels and their supposed network within the academe and civil society.
The two students remain missing.
In 2018, a Malolos court sentenced Mr. Palparan and the two other military officers to life in prison without eligibility for parole.
Despite being members of the military, Mr. Palparan and his accomplices were tried by a civil court since the crime was not connected to military service, the appellate court noted.
Military officials may be tried by a court-martial if the crime is considered “service-connected” under the Articles of War such as mutiny and insubordination.
Last week, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) committed a procedural lapse in protocol when it allowed Palparan’s interview with a television network owned by Filipino religious leader Apollo C. Quiboloy, who is wanted in the United States for sex trafficking and other charges.
Mr. Guevarra has since ordered BuCor chief Gerald Q. Bantag to explain why the interview was allowed by jail authorities. — John Victor D. Ordoñez