Court grants military in Cadapan-Empeño case another trial date despite lack of witnesses, series of postponements

Karapatan lambasts the defense in the Cadapan-Empeño case for consistently delaying the proceedings since the case was filed in 2011. Today's hearing was supposed to be the last presentation of the defense’s witnesses, but RTC branch 14 Judge Teodora Gonzales of Malolos Bulacan allowed another date for the defense to present their witnesses for the“last time". Judge Gonzales fined the defense several times and warned that the case will be deemed submitted for resolution if the defense fails to present their witnesses. 

“Despite the obvious maneuver of the defense to postpone the proceedings, the court still gave them leeway. Is this fair for the families of Karen and Sherlyn who have been searching for justice for eight long years? How long should we wait for the military to gather its witnesses and present their testimonies to the Court?” Karapatan Chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez said. 

The Court allowed the request of the defense for a 15-minute break to prepare their judicial affidavits on the spot. It also allowed accused Col. Felipe Anotado to take the witness stand. On cross-examination of Prosecution lawyer Julian Oliva, Anotado insisted there is no military camp in Limay, Bataan, only a military detachment. 

Witness Raymond Manalo during earlier hearings testified he was detained at the said camp/detachment. But, Anotado argued he never met Raymond Manalo, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño nor heard any news regarding their abduction.

“Anotado and other accused in this case are lying through their teeth. What they are giving us is a  gamut of alibis and denials that are not supported by evidence. They do not have competent witnesses that’s why they keep on delaying the proceedings. Are they running out of hired witnesses?” said Hilao-Enriquez.

“Justice remains elusive for Karen and Sherlyn especially that Palparan is still on the  run. We express our outrage on this kind of justice system that only favors the privileged. But we will never stop seeking justice for Karen and Sherlyn and all victims of human rights violations in and out of court until the perpatrators are jailed and punished,” Hilao-Enriquez concluded.

Families and supporters of Sherlyn and Karen will commemorate the 8th year of their abduction on June 26.