MANILA -- Retired Major General Jovito Palparan is still innocent until a court decides otherwise, Malacanang stressed on Sunday.
In an interview with radio dzRB, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Palparan’s rights should be respected even if he is a high-profile suspect.
"We need to acknowledge that as an accused, Gen. Palparan still enjoys certain rights. Based on our Constitution, he is covered by the principle of presumption of innocence," he said.
Coloma said the government continues to monitor the situation since it is also its responsibility to ensure the safety of detainees.
Palparan, who was arrested last week, said he went into hiding for “self-preservation.” Called a “berdugo” or “butcher” for his anti-insurgency campaign, he said he knows the communists are out to kill him.
A Bulacan court ordered his arrest allegedly due to his involvement in the disappearance of students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno.
Even as he denied the allegations, he asked the government for full security.
Militants hailed his arrest, but the Association of General and Flag Officers (AFGO) denounced the trial by publicity he was allegedly put in.
"We sympathize with the families of the victims of this long running insurgency whether they are civilians or soldiers. But branding Maj. Gen. Palparan as a berdugo and playing it up in the media does not help the quest for justice," AGFO president and retired Lt. Gen. Edilberto Adan said, noting that Palparan is a professional soldier.
"His courage and leadership had saved lives and protected communities. His sacrifices should be taken into account,” he said.
"If he had abused his power and authority or committed any crime against anyone as the militants claim, then allow him to face his accusers, and they should present evidence for evaluation by competent authorities so that justice maybe served. Lest we forget, this is how it works in a democracy," Adan added.