by KMU International Dept., 23 April 2003
At around 7 a.m. on April 22, 2003, the lifeless bodies of human rights advocate Eden Marcellana and peasant leader Eddie Gumanoy were found in Bansud, after they and three others were abducted by suspected members of a vigilante group in Naujan, Mindoro Oriental the night before. Marcellana`s body bore gunshot wounds in the head while Gumanoy`s bore gunshot wounds in the head and chest.
Marcellana, 31 years old, was the outspoken secretary-general of Karapatan-Southern Tagalog (Alliance for the Advancement of People`s Rights - ST). Gumanoy was chair of the Katipunan ng Samahang Magsasaka sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK; Confederation of Peasant Groups in Southern Tagalog) and a National Council member of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines).
The three others abducted were Francisco Saez and Melvin Jocson, both provincial coordinators of the peasant-worker group Anakpawis in Oriental Mindoro and Virgilio Catoy, a member of the Gawad CCP awardee audio-visual group ST-Exposure. Jocson and Catoy were found hogtied late yesterday afternoon while Saez remains unaccounted for until now.
The abduction happened at around 7:30 pm on April 21, 2003 in Brgy. Maibon, Naujan, Mindoro Oriental. Around 20 armed men wearing bonnets blocked the path of a rented van which had on board KARAPATAN-ST`s Quick Reaction Team (QRT) composed of 11 people. The QRT was on its way back from investigating the reported abductions in Gloria, Mindoro Oriental and the reported killings in Pinagmalayan, Mindoro Oriental. They have been in the area since April 19, 2003.
The armed bonnet-wearing men were strongly believed to be members of a vigilante group coddled by Col. Jovito Palparan Jr. of the 204th Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army (IBPA) based in Mindoro Oriental.
Marcellana and Gumanoy were the 28th and 29th activists to be killed in Mindoro Oriental. Marcellana is also the 9th human rights advocate to be killed under Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo`s regime.
Prior to her death, Marcellana headed the various fact-finding missions for the numerous murders of peasants, community leaders and activists in Mindoro Oriental and exposed military complicity in the incidents. One of the cases led to the filing of murder charges against Palparan who in turn tagged Marcellana a "communist".
Despite numerous atrocities in Mindoro Island, Palparan has been promoted by Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as a brigadier general. He is known to be the President`s favorite colonel.
A fact-finding mission is in Oriental Mindoro today to retrieve the bodies of Marcellana and Gumanoy and to look into the said murder and abduction. Among the members of the fact-finding mission are Bayan Muna Representatives Crispin Beltran and Satur Ocampo, representatives of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), KMU Chairperson Elmer Labog and other leaders and representatives of people`s organizations.
We therefore urge you to send letters of protest to the Philippine government, CHR, Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). We urgently call on you to join us in strongly condemning the killings, to demand justice for the victims and to call on the government to prosecute the perpetrators of the killings and abductions as well as to investigate other atrocities committed by the 204th IBPA under the command of Col. Palparan Jr. Please join us also in demanding Pres. Arroyo to pull-out the troops in Mindoro and to stop the killings in the island.
Following is a detailed account of the killings and abduction from KARAPATAN:
In Brgy. Maibon, Naujan, Mindoro Oriental, at around 7:30 pm, 21 April 2003, approximately twenty (20) armed men wearing bonnets blocked the path of a rented van which had on board KARAPATAN-Southern Tagalog s Quick Reaction Team (QRT) composed of eleven (11) people. The QRT was on its way back from investigating the reported abductions in Gloria, Mindoro Oriental and reported killings in Pinagmalayan, Mindoro Oriental and have been in the area since 19 April 2003.
Immediately five (5) of the hooded men forcibly boarded the rented van, told the driver to get off, and one of the five took over the driver`s seat and drove to a secluded area in Poblacion 3, Sampaguita, Naujan, Mindoro Oriental. Along the way, flashlights were beamed on the faces of the members of the QRT. The armed men hurled invectives at the QRT team members Putang-ina ninyo, ang sasarap ng buhay n yo! Ngayon matitikman n yo ang kalbaryo! (You sons of bitches, you always have it so good! Now you will taste hell!). The members of the QRT were harassed, struck on the head, and one of them, Mark Suva, was struck with a .45 caliber gun.
At around 8:30 pm, the van stopped somewhere in Poblacion 3, Sampaguita. Behind it was a jeepney carrying the other armed bonneted men accompanying the driver who was earlier made to get off the van. The QRT members were forced to identify among themselves Eden Marcellana and Eddie Gumanoy. The armed men recognized Eden and Eddie and both were made to alight from the van. Then one of the bonneted men pointed to Melvin Jocson, while saying Kilala kita, nakita kita sa Batangas! (I recognize you, I saw you in Batangas!). The armed men pulled Melvin from the van and because his companions did not want to let go of him, Francisco Saez, and Virgilio Catoy, were likewise made to alight from the van.
The five (Marcellana, Gumanoy, Saez, Jocson, Catoy) were hogtied and made to ride the jeep together with the armed bonneted men. This was around 9:30 pm. A video camera, all the cellular phones, bags of the QRT members were forcibly taken by the armed men.
The other members of the QRT left the area at around 11:30 pm. By 12:15 am, they reached Calapan City and later walked towards the office of BAYAN-Mindoro Oriental.
Please send protest letters, e-mail messages and fax letters to the following government offices:
H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President of the Republic
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Hon. Eduardo R. Ermita
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
7F Agustin Building I
Pasig City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 636 0701 to 0766
Fax: (+632) 638 2216
Hon. Angelo T. Reyes
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Camp Emilio Aguinaldo
E. de los Santos Avenue,
Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 912-9281
Fax: (+632) 911 6213
Hon. Purificacion Valera Quisumbing
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Diliman, Quezon City
Fax: (+632) 926 6188
Please furnish the KMU-International Dept copies of letters you will send to the said offices.
KMU International Dept.