MANILA - Justice Secretary Leila De Lima wants the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to make sure it has enough resources to secure the transport of retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan to the Bulacan Provincial Jail where he was ordered detained on kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges.
De Lima stressed that it is the responsibility of the state to ensure the security of prisoners, even as she denied this smacks of special treatment for Palparan who stands charged before a Malolos trial court for the disappearance of Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan in 2006.
Palparan, who has earned notoriety as "The Butcher" for his counter-insurgency methods while in active service, is a high-profile detainee, with the NBI and Armed Forces saying that there may be threats to his life from the New People's Army (NPA).
"I will be seeing [NBI Director Virgilio Mendez] and find out exactly the status or the capacity of the NBI at the moment to bring accused Palparan to the Bulacan Provincial Jal and ensuring, absolutely, his security during the transport from NBI [national headquarters, Manila] to the Bulacan Provincial Jail, and to also check how secure the accused Palparan will be kapag naiturn over na sa [provincial jail," De Lima said.
The justice chief said certain elements may take advantage of the situation to embarrass the administration, and that if anything happened to Palparan, the blame would definitely be on the administration amid these "volatile" times.
"It's common knowledge, it's even common sense na dahil nga sa status niya, yung personalidad niya, and in relation dun sa mga groups na talaga namang very determined dun sa papanagutin sya dito sa mga kaso na ito... it could not even be that group, it could even be any group out to embarrass the administration. Kung may mangyayari kay Palparan, sino ba sisisihin, hindi ba ang administrasyon?
"You can never tell, because of the political situation and the volatile situation that we have. Certain elements, sectors, might exploit the situation and cause further problems to the administration," De Lima said.
De Lima also hit at those who said Palparan's arrest was an effort by the administration to resuscitate President Aquino's plunging popularity.
"Tingnan ninyo mga theories nila, may nagsusupetsa na palabas lang itong paghuli kay Palparan para matakpan yung sa DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program). Para bang ang insinuation, para bang kakuntsaba namin si Gen. Palparan. What a foolish insinuation," De Lima said.
Palparan was arrested in Sta. Mesa, Manila on Tuesday by a composite team from the NBI Anti-Organized Transnational Crimes Division and the Armed Forces of the Philippines Naval Intelligence and Security Force/Counter-Intelligence Group.
He is set to be arraigned and tried for the Cadapan-Empeno abductions.