MANILA – Justice Secretary Leila de Lima assured human rights groups that no special treatment will be given to retired major general Jovito Palparan, who was arrested on Tuesday after years of hiding.
De Lima said the court will have the final say where Palparan will be detained. While waiting for a commitment order from the court, Palparan will have to be detained at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) headquarters in Manila.
De Lima said the DOJ and the NBI will work to ensure the safety of Palparan, who has requested that his safety be guaranteed amid the supposed threats to his life for his alleged involvement in extrajudicial killings.
''In the meantime, habang wala pang commitment order, dito po muna siya. Bahala na siya at ang kanyang abugado na hilingin iyan sa korte kung dito siya,'' de Lima told reporters.
''Kung dito siya, NBI will make sure na maaalagaan siya ng maayos dito. No special treatment, just fair, just and humane treatment."
In a separate interview, De Lima said since Palparan is a high-profile personality and his case is not ordinary, the DOJ may hold consultations with the proper authorities regarding the detention of the retired general.
"Maybe we can hold consultations with the security forces and I will also ask the opinion of the NBI with respect to him so we can manifest before the court any suggestion we can have tungkol dyan sa custody ni Major General Palparan," she said.
Palparan is wanted for the 2006 disappearance of University of the Philippines (UP) students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño.
He went into hiding in 2011 after a Bulacan Regional Trial Court judge issued a warrant arrest for him, Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado Jr., S/Sgt. Edgardo Osorio and M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario.
De Lima said Palparan's arrest is a testament to the Aquino administration's resolve in ending the culture of impunity in the country. She also hopes that the arrest will at least ease the tension between left-leaning groups and the government.
PALPARAN: NO TO DEATH AT THE HANDS OF REBELS
In an earlier interview, Palparan said he does not need to be given special treatment and that he will not ask for hospital arrest or house arrest.
He, however, has one concern: that he not be killed by communist rebels.
''Kahit saan ako makulong. Ang foremost concern ko lang is security. Ayaw ko lang naman na mapatay ako ng kalaban, malaking advantage sa movement iyon ng Communist Party. Kahit anong condition, I don’t need special treatment,'' he told dzMM.
Palparan admitted he had moved from place to place in order to avoid arrest, but he denied ever leaving the country or staying in Camp Aguinaldo while he was a fugitive.
He also denied employing a private army. He, however, admitted that many personalities offered him help but he said he turned these down.
''Hindi na ako gumamit ng maraming tao. Kasi unang-una 'yung maraming ma-involve, kawawa naman sila. But they are willing, marami,'' he said.
Various militant groups have called on the government not to give Palparan a special treatment. They also demand that the people who supposedly coddled the fugitive retired general be brought to justice, and appealed to other alleged victims of Palparan to come forward.
Meanwhile, De Lima said the arrest of Palparan shows that there is no let-up in efforts to capture the country's top fugitives, including Ruben Ecleo Jr., brothers Joel and Mario Reyes, Cezar Mancao, and Reynald Lim, the brother of alleged pork scam brains Janet Lim Napoles.