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Palparan arrest scripted?

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Another high-profile fugitive included in the so-called “Big 5 Fugitives” has fallen under the Aquino administration raising expectations that this would put some shine back on the President’s ratings.

After three years in hiding, former Major General Jovito Palparan Jr., known as “the butcher” to human rights activists, calmly turned himself in when he was arrested in a hideout in Sta. Mesa, Manila before dawn on Tuesday.

Palparan’s capture came a day after the Social Weather Stations (SWS) released its latest survey showing a continuous drop in the satisfaction ratings of President Benigno Aquino III fueling speculation that this was a publicity stunt meant to boost the administration’s sagging popularity.

Palparan had reportedly been sending surrender feelers to the President a few months ago but these had been ignored on the advise of the Department of Defense.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Palparan already wanted to turn himself in but only to President Aquino as early as last year.

Gazmin, however, questioned Palparan’s conditions. Palparan then decided to go into hiding again carrying a P2-million bounty on his head.

Palparan is facing two counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention before a Bulacan court for the alleged abduction of two University of the Philippines students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan on June 26, 2006.

When asked by reporters in a press conference if the arrest could salvage the plunging satisfaction ratings of the President, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. was cagey in his response.

“We want to create concrete results and concrete actions. Whatever is the result of the survey, the government will still be focused on enforcing the law, bringing criminals to justice and ensuring public safety and welfare,” he said.

While militant groups welcomed the arrest of Palparan, they also warned that the former Representative’s capture should not be used to gain “pogi points” for Aquino.

“Palparan’s arrest comes in such a convenient timing to pull up BS Aquino’s falling trust ratings… Let this be not an attempt to gain pogi points for BS Aquino government,” Lorena Santos, secretary-general for Justice of Families of Desaparecidos, said in an interview with GMA News online.

President Aquino suffered further decline in his public satisfaction ratings based on survey conducted by the SWS last June 27 to 30, which was released on Monday.

He experienced drop in all indicators getting a net satisfaction rating of +29, his lowest since he took over in 2010. This result was a significant drop from +45 rating in the first quarter of 2014 and +51 ratings in the end of 2013.

Palparan was the second among the top five most wanted people in the country to be arrested under the President over the last five months. Last March, Delfin Lee, president of Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings, was captured over a P6.6-billion syndicated estafa case.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Palparan’s arrest showed the President’s commitment to bring high-profile fugitives to justice.

“Today, this resolute determination has paid off, the long arm of the law has finally reached Mr. Palparan. President Aquino promised that those who evade the law will be found. That promise to capture General Palparan has been fulfilled,” he said in a statement.

Malacanang vowed that the government will continue to hunt down the remaining “Big 5” fugitives including former Palawan governor Joel Reyes and his brother Mario Reyes and Dinagat Representative Ruben Ecleo.

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