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CITY OF MALOLOS—Detained former Army general Jovito Palparan Jr. did not order the 2006 abduction of two female University of the Philippines students who remained missing to this day, according to a retired colonel who testified on Thursday at the resumption of Palparan’s kidnapping trial.

Segundo Metran, who served as deputy commander of the 24th Infantry Battalion at Limay town in Bataan province, also said the coaccused, Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado, was sick in 2006 and could not have met Palparan on any occasion before students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan disappeared.

Metran testified during Thursday’s hearing on the kidnapping and illegal detention charges against Palparan, Anotado and Sgt. Edgardo Osorio.

Cases vs Palparan, et al.

Empeño, then 22, was a sociology student doing research on the plight of Bulacan farmers, and Cadapan, then 29, a human kinetics student, was a community organizer for a farmers’ group in the province.

They were reportedly abducted by armed men in Hagonoy, Bulacan, on June 26, 2006. Manuel Merino, a farmer who came to their aid, was also taken and was also missing.

Palparan was ordered arrested in 2011, went into hiding and was caught in 2014 in Sta. Mesa, Manila. He had denied the charges.

First meeting

Anotado denied links to Palparan, telling the court they met for the first time at the trial. Osorio said he did not witness Palparan ordering soldiers to arrest Cadapan and Empeño.

In 2016, the prosecution presented farmer Raymund Manalo, who said he saw the two women bound and strapped while they were allegedly being tortured by soldiers inside a military camp.

Manalo and his brother, Reynaldo, were also detained by soldiers at the time.

A lawyer for the students’ families, Julian Oliva, said the prosecution had offered evidence that Palparan had meetings with Anotado and Osorio.

“The military had… command conferences led by General Palparan,” said Oliva, a member of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers.

Palparan, a former major general, headed the Army’s 7th Infantry Division based in Tarlac province at the time the students went missing.

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