A court in Bulacan province has found retired Army Major General Jovito Palparan Jr. and two others guilty of kidnapping and serious illegal detention, Jonathan Andal reported on Dobol B sa New TV on Monday.
The case was in connection with the disappearance of UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan in 2006.
The relatives of the two missing students became emotional when the verdict was handed down by Judge Alexander Tamayo of Malolos Regional Trial Court Branch 15.
The court sentenced Palparan and his two co-accused, former Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado and former Staff Sgt. Edgardo Osorio, to reclusion perpetua. A third accused, Rizal Hilario, remains at large.
The three were also ordered to pay the victims' families P100,000.
The report said a commotion occurred at the courtroom when Palparan screamed at Judge Tamayo and called him "duwag" (coward).
This prompted Tamayo to warn Palparan that he could be cited in contempt, but the retired military official was reportedly unfazed.
Tamayo also ordered that Palparan be transferred from his detention cell in the Philippine Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City to a regular jail cell.
Security was tight at the court during the reading of the verdict, which was witnessed by members of various human rights organizations that have been supporting the families of the victims for years.
"We welcome the court’s decision to convict Palparan for the charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention of disappeared University of the Philippines (UP) students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan," said Roneo Clamor, secretary general of human rights group Karapatan, in a statement.
"This is a step forward for justice, though partial for so long as Karen and Sherlyn remain missing and numerous other violations remain unresolved."
"Justice may come a bit late, but it does come. Let's believe in that," he said in a message sent to reporters. —KBK, GMA News