“Justice is dead in our country.” – Orly Marcellana
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — Enraged over the inaction of the government on the murder of Eden Marcellana and Eddie Gumanoy, relatives and colleagues of the slain activists trooped to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The protest marked the 10th death anniversary of Marcellana, former secretary general of Karapatan-Southern Tagalog, and Gumanoy, former chairman of Kasama-Timog Katagalugan.
Carrying photographs of the two leaders, Marcellana’s husband, Orly, and their two daughters, Ara and Dana Marie, led the protesters in front of the DOJ.
“Justice is dead in our country,” Orly, now chairman of Kasama-TK, said in Filipino. “Still, I know that time would come that GMA and Palparan would pay for their crimes.”
GMA is the initial of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who implemented the bloody counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya. Palparan or retired Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. has been tagged as the mastermind behind the killings.
On April 21, 2003, the two led an 11-member quick reaction team (QRT) to investigate cases of abduction and killings at Gloria and Pinamalayan towns in the province of Mindoro Oriental. On their way back to Calapan City, a group of some 20 armed men wearing bonnets abducted them.
Their companions were eventually released but the two leaders were not. They were found dead the next day in Bansud, Oriental Mindoro. Their bodies bore signs of torture.
The perpetrators, the so-called “Bonnet Gang” was linked with the Philippine Army’s 204th Infantry Battalion of which then Colonel Palparan was the commanding officer.
Philippine gov’t accountable
After the incident, the families filed charges against Palparan and his men before the DOJ but the case was dismissed.
Finding no justice here in the Philippines, Orly and Gumanoy’s son, Daniel, filed a complaint before the United Nations Human Rights Committee in March 2006.
In a ruling dated October 30, 2008, the UN Committee declared that the Philippine government violated the rights of the victims.
The UNHRC further declared that the Philippine government “is under an obligation to provide the authors [families of victims] with an effective remedy, including initiation and pursuit of criminal proceedings to establish responsibility for the kidnapping and death of the victims, and payment of appropriate compensation. The State party should also take measures to ensure that such violations do not recur in the future.”
None of the UNHRC’s recommendations have been implemented more than 1,500 days after the issuance of the said resolution.
Last year, Orly, together with Karapatan-Southern Tagalog secretary general Glendhyl Malabanan and Marie Hilao-Enriquez Karapatan national chairwoman, held a dialogue with Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III. The group demanded the reopening of the case and the implementation of the UN resolution.
“Usec. Baraan told us it was his first time to hear about the UN resolution and said we should follow up his office the next month,” Malabanan said in her speech. “Until now, however, we have not heard anything from the DOJ.”
Arrest Palparan, jail Arroyo
Protesters threw rotten tomatoes at the photograph of Palparan.
They said the Aquino administration must bring Palparan to justice and must not give special treatment to Gloria Arroyo.
Palparan has not been apprehended more than a year after the issuance of a warrant of arrest issued against him for charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention in connection with the enforced disappearance of University of the Philippines students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan.
“Ang mga berdugo, hindi binebeybi, pinipisa,” Orly said. He said Arroyo must be brought to a detention facility and not in a hospital.