PRISONER PALPARAN Retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr., who was transferred to New Bilibid Prison on Wednesday night from the Armed Forces’ Custodial Center after a Bulacan court convicted him of kidnapping two students in 2006, talks to reporters at the national penitentiary’s Reception and Diagnostic Center. —GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE
In happier days, Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. was a decorated soldier, party-list representative, and powerful ally of his then commander in chief, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
On Wednesday night, Palparan arrived at New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City an angry man with nothing but a cigarette.
But the guards seized even that.
Ronald dela Rosa, chief of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), told reporters on Thursday that Palparan would have 40 years to cool off in Bilibid.
Judge Alexander Tamayo of Branch 15 of the Bulacan Regional Trial Court sentenced Palparan on Sept. 17 to life imprisonment for the kidnapping of University of the Philippines students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan in 2006.
The two women were never seen again.
Motion thrown out
Palparan had asked the court to allow him to stay in military custody while he was appealing his conviction.
Bulacan RTC Branch 19 had ordered the military to keep Palparan in its custody while he was being tried for illegal detention, also in the Empeño-Cadapan case.
But Judge Tamayo, invoking a Supreme Court directive for the immediate transfer to Bilibid of convicted felons, threw out his motion on Tuesday and ordered him transferred to the national penitentiary.
Palparan arrived in Bilibid at 7:45 p.m. on Wednesday, ending a controversial stay in a military jail at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City.
His convicted coaccused, former Army Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado and former Army S/Sgt. Edgardo Osorio, were transferred to Bilibid on Tuesday.
All prisoners equal
The man called “The Butcher” by human rights defenders because of the killing of activists wherever he was assigned as military commander was clapped in a cell with 37 other inmates at Bilibid’s Reception and Diagnostic Center (RDC), where he would spend 60 days undergoing medical checkup, counseling and briefing on prison rules.
“No VIP treatment,” Dela Rosa promised.
“If he must sleep on carton, he will sleep on carton,” the former chief of the Philippine National Police added.
In a brief interview with reporters inside his cell, Palparan said he would go through the normal processes.
“I’m as normal as anybody,” he said.
Asked if he expected special treatment, Palparan said he didn’t.
He and his cellmates were “equal,” he said.
Dela Rosa said he believed Palparan feared encountering convicted communist rebels in prison.
“That’s the one thing we will watch,” Dela Rosa said. “If they hurt General Palparan, we will hurt them also.”
Dela Rosa said it was normal for new prisoners to be quarantined at the RDC.
At the center, prisoners are assessed to determine what reformational program they should be put through.
After assessment, Palparan will be moved to the maximum security block.
Dela Rosa said he expected Palparan to adjust quickly to life in congested Bilibid.
Like other prisoners there, he will try to survive on P20 a day.
Palparan told reporters he felt good after his first night in Bilibid.
His cell was larger than a typical Bureau of Jail Management and Penology cell, which had a national congestion rate of 620 percent.
The diagnostic center had a long dining table.
On Thursday, there were plates of rice topped with tinola for the prisoners.
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