The recent interview of Presidential Communications Operations Office Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy with retired Army general Jovito Palparan delved into insurgency which has been plaguing the country for more than five decades.
Palparan was inside the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City all throughout the interview. Hence, no prior leave was necessary, according to a statement of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) Legal Cooperation Cluster on Sunday.
The online interview with Badoy and Franco Baranda was aired over SMNI’s “Laban Kasama ang Bayan (LAKAB)” program on March 30.
Also interviewed were Datu Jake Lanes of the Mandaya-Manobo tribe and Lt. Col. Celeste Frank Sayson, group commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ 7th Civil Relations Group.
The NTF-ELCAC said it was not surprising that communist supporters would quickly and negatively react over the government’s relentless effort to expose the lies and deception of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
The legal cluster said one of the sympathizers active in hurling insults on the government’s pursuits is the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), represented by its president, lawyer Edre Olalia.
Olalia questioned why Palparan was allowed to give a media interview and whether the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Malolos, Bulacan Regional Trial Court which sentenced Palparan to life imprisonment for kidnapping and serious illegal detention in 2018 were aware of it.
Palparan was convicted for the disappearance of University of the Philippines students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno in 2006, both suspected CPP-NPA supporters.
The DOJ said it would conduct an inquiry on how Palparan was interviewed.
“The protestation of Atty. Olalia is clearly misplaced while the planned inquiry of the DOJ would certainly result in a finding that the questioned interview was in accordance with prevailing rules, legal precepts, and jurisprudence,” the NTF-ELCAC statement read.
Under Republic Act 10575, or the Bureau of Corrections Act of 2013, it is the policy of the State to promote the general welfare and safeguard the basic rights of every prisoner incarcerated in our national penitentiary.
BuCor is charged with the safekeeping of national inmates.
“Consistently, the Supreme Court jurisprudential pronouncement, in the matter of Writ of Habeas Corpus vs. De Lima (GR No. 215585, Sept. 8, 2020), provides that the BuCor has authority under the law and existing rules and regulations to determine the movement of national inmates, provided that these are done within the penal institutions. Any movement outside the penal institution, such as court appearances, must have prior court authorization,” the statement added.
BuCor complied with the protocols as stated in its manual of operation before the interview was approved, the NTF-ELCAC emphasized.
“BuCor exercised due diligence and has authority over the movement of Gen. Palparan, a national inmate, within the penal institution. Relevantly, a prior leave of court is required only if the movement is outside the penal institution,” the statement read.
The NTF-ELCAC Legal Cooperation Cluster said Olalia’s “overzealous questioning” was “utterly baseless”.
“We thus ask this lingering question. Why are you so quick to assail the government’s effort to provide lasting peace to the Filipino people, but never once called out the crimes of CPP-NPA-NDF against Filipino soldiers and civilians?” the cluster asked Olalia.