MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) has granted the petition for writs of amparo and habeas data filed by the family of Gregan Cardeño, a translator for American forces in Mindanao, who was found dead last February 2 inside his room at the Joint Special Operation Task Force (JSOTFP) military headquarters in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.
In a one-page notice, the SC informed the parties to the case of its June 15 resolution granting the petition of the Cardeño family and referring the case to Court of Appeals Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr. for immediate raffling.
The high court also directed the respondents – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in her capacity as commander in chief; the Visiting Forces Agreement Commission; Philippine National Police Director General Jesus Versoza; the JSOTFP; a certain Captain Boyer and Master Sergeant Gines of the US military; General Benjamin Dolorfino, chief of the Western Mindanao Command; Brigadier General Rey Aldo of the 103rd Infantry Brigade; Colonel Felix Castro, also of the 103rd IB; Senior Police Officers 3 Ali Rangiris and Mayaman Angintaopan of the Marawi police; Police Officer 2 Mago, an intelligence officer; Captain Michael Kay; Lieutenant Junior Grade Theresa Donelly of the US Barracks, 103rd IB; Tomas Rivera III and Skylink, a subcontractor of the US Army with which Cardeño applied for the job – to submit a verified return of the writs within five days upon receipt of the resolution.
The respondents were also ordered to file their respective comments on the petition within the same period.
The SC also tasked the appellate court to hear the petition on July 1 and decide on the issue 10 days after its submission for decision.
The writ of amparo is a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty, and security has been violated or is threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity.
On the other hand, the writ of habeas data is a remedy available to any person whose right to privacy in life, liberty or security is violated or threatened by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity engaged in the gathering, collecting or storing of data or information regarding the person, family, home and correspondence of the aggrieved party.
In their petition, the Cardeños, through their lawyer Rex Fernandez, also asked the Court to issue a protective order enjoining the respondents from continuously harassing them to discourage them from pursuing their case.
They said their petition stemmed from suspicions of a cover up of the real cause of Cardeño’s death, which authorities insist was a suicide but his relatives believe to be murder.
The human rights organization Karapatan, whose help the Cardeño family sought, conducted a fact-finding mission on March 3 and 4 but was not allowed access to where the interpreted was found dead.
Records show Cardeño was officially listed by Skylink as a security guard even if he had been hired as an interpreter.
He flew out of Edwin Andrews Air Based in Zamboanga City, supposedly for Camp Siongco in Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, but was instead taken to JSOTFP military headquarters inside the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade headquarters in Marawi City.
He was founded dead in his room February 2. The US military and Skylink claimed he committed suicide by hanging himself with a bed sheet.
However, his relatives have cited lapses in the investigation of the death and noted that the US troops and Skylink transported Cardeño’s body to Zamboanga City without any death certificate, and with no permit or documentation from any authority, in violation of the Visiting Forces Agreement.
They also said a court-issued protective order had become necessary after the killing of Major Javier Ignacio, who had been helping them investigate the case.
Ignacio, who recommended Cardeño for the job, was shot dead March 25 by still unidentified motorcycle riding men in Camins, Zamboanga City.