“This government has failed to punish Palparan ang Gloria (Macapagal-Arroyo) for their human rights violations. But when it comes to filing trumped up cases against activists and having them arrested, the government sure acts fast.” – Orly Marcellana, husband of victim Eden.
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — Dana was only 7 years old when her mother Eden Marcellana, then secretary general of Karapatan – Southern Tagalog, was killed.
“It has been 11 years since my mother was brutally murdered. I was only 7 years old then. Now, I am 18 years old. It was so hard for me and my sister growing up without our mother. Every year, we hold protests to call for justice. But it seems like they fall on deaf ears,” Dana said.
On April 22, 2014, Dana joined members of progressive groups from Southern Tagalog in a series of protest actions to commemorate the killing of her mother and peasant leader Eddie Gumanoy 11 years ago.
“It has been 11 long years now but justice is still elusive and far from sight. And while the families of Ka Eden and Ka Eddie continue to suffer their tragic loss, Jovito Palparan is still roaming free and Gloria Arroyo is in the comfort of the hospital,” Glen Malabanan, secretary general of Karapatan – Southern Tagalog, said.
Marcellana and Gumanoy led a quick reaction team to investigate the reported killings in the towns of Gloria and Pinamalayan in Mindoro Oriental on Apr. 21, 2003. On their way to Calapan City, however, the team was abducted by the so-called “Bonnet Gang,” which human rights said are under the Philippine Army’s 204th Infantry Battalion. The now fugitive retired General Jovito Palparan, then still a colonel, was the Army unit’s commanding officer.
Their companions were later released. Marcellana and Gumanoy were found dead the next day in Bansud, Mindoro Oriental.
Families filed criminal cases against the perpetrators but these were dismissed by the Department of Justice. They then sought the intervention of the United Nations and in 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council ruled that the Philippine government “is under 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.”
Orly Marcellana, husband of Eden, told Bulatlat.com that he last spoke to Justice undersecretary Francisco Baraan III in 2012 and was told that there was no way to re-open the case until they find new evidence or witness for the case.
“The government ignored the UN recommendation,” Orly said when asked if the Philippine government looked into the recommendations of the United Nations.
Orly said he finds it unfair that Palparan and his men are still scot free, 11 years since the killing of the two activist leaders. With all the government resources at hand, he added it is impossible not to locate Palparan.
“This government has failed to punish Palparan ang Gloria (Macapagal-Arroyo) for their human rights violations. But when it comes to filing trumped up cases against activists and having them arrested, the government sure acts fast,” Orly said, referring to Armando Lemita and his family who were recently arrested for opposing ‘development’ projects in Nasugbu, Batangas.
Malabanan, in a statement sent to the media, said President Aquino’s “straight path” has been marred with the “prevailing impunity and continuing killings and persecution of activists.”
“As we speak, hundreds of political prisoners remain incarcerated on trumped up charges while the number of victims of extrajudicial killings and abduction is on the rise,” Malabanan said.
Dana, in an interview with Bulatlat.com, said she would continue to fight, just like the way her mother did. “Now that I am an activist myself, I found many ‘mothers’ in the people’s movement, from fellow activists and the mothers we are organizing in communities. I see my mother in them.”