Statement of National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict Legal Cooperation Cluster
PCOO Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy interviewed retired army General Jovito Palparan (Gen. Palparan) on March 30, 2022 in SMNI Laban Kasama ang Bayan (LAKAB), a television program aired for the purpose of broadcasting uncompromising truth. The interview delved into the pressing issue of communist insurgency which has been plaguing the country for more than five decades.
But as expected, communist supporters would react ever quickly and negatively to 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), designated terrorist organizations. One of these sympathizers active in hurling insults to the government's noble pursuits is National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL), represented by its President, Atty. Edre Olalia (Atty. Olalia) who, in a news statement, questioned why Gen. Palparan was allowed to give media interview, and whether the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the court which convicted Gen. Palparan were aware of it.
Accordingly, on March 31, 2022, the DOJ announced that it would conduct an inquiry on how Gen. Palparan was interviewed on SMNI sans the knowledge and conformity of the court.
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 accord with prevailing rules, legal precepts and jurisprudence.
Under Republic Act (R.A) No. 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. To this end, the Bucor is charged with the safekeeping of national inmates.
Consistently, the Supreme Court jurisprudential pronouncement in, In the Matter of Writ of Habeas Corpus vs. De Lima (GR No. 215585, Sep 08, 2020), provides that the BuCor had 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.
Truth be told, R.A. No. 10575 is silent as to the rules in the conduct of an interview of an inmate. Nevertheless, in the exercise of prudence, the BuCor complied with the protocols as stated in its manual of operation before the interview was approved.
Based on the foregoing, it is crystal clear that 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.
To emphasize, Gen. Palparan was interviewed by SMNI within the four corners of the New Bilibid Prison. Perforce, no prior leave is necessary.
In sum, the interview was conducted within the purview of the law. Ergo, Atty. Olalia's overzealous questioning as to Gen. Palparan’s interview is 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?
As fellow legal practitioners, we humbly entreat Atty. Olalia, and the NUPL lawyers to live true to the Lawyer's Oath: Maintain Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, Support the Constitution and Obey the laws and the Legal Orders of the duly constituted authorities.
Support NTF-ELCAC and Denounce CPP-NPA-NDF. Only then can you be truly called the People’s lawyers.