Sunday, June 27, 2010

Writ of amparo granted to kin of interpreter found dead among US troops: GMA News

The Supreme Court has granted extra protection to the family of an interpreter for US troops who died under mysterious circumstances in Marawi City, after they claimed receiving threats for pursuing the case.

The high court issued the writ of amparo to 28 relatives of Gregan Cardeño, led by Gregan’s wife Myrna, sister Carivel and sister-in-law Lorraine, who filed the petition.

Contained in an SC resolution dated June 15 but sent out on June 22, the writ of amparo enjoins government officials to protect Cardeño’s relatives against threats from and acts of surveillance by military officials, who they suspect to be involved in events that led to Gregan’s death and are attempting to cover up the incident.

The SC likewise granted the family’s petition for writ of habeas data, which obliges the police and military to transmit to either the Court of Appeals (CA) or to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) all reports and evidence on the deaths of Cardeño and Maj. Javier Ignacio.

Ignacio, commanding officer of the Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom)’s Military Police, was helping the family conduct its own investigation when he was himself killed.

The SC resolution further directed the CA to hear on July 1 the petitioners’ requests, which include permission to inspect Gregan’s room in Camp Ranao.

The respondents are outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Visiting Forces Agreement Commission, the Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines, Wesmincom Commander Lt. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino, Philippine National Police director general Jesus Verzosa, and 12 other officers of the local police and military, and of the US soldiers stationed at Camp Ranao in Marawi City.

The respondents were ordered to comment on the petition within five days from receipt of the resolution.

Dead inside a US camp

Gregan, 33, was supposed to be assigned as a security guard at Camp Siongco in Maguindanao province, but on February 1 was allegedly brought instead by a US helicopter to Camp Ranao in Marawi, which is also the headquarters of the 103rd Brigade of the Philippine Army.

Barely three days after, however, Gregan’s family received a call from a local police official telling them that he committed suicide by hanging himself midnight of February 2.

The family, however, suspected there was foul play as Gregan was still able to call them before he allegedly killed himself, saying he was not doing an interpreter’s work and that what he was being asked to do was “very difficult."

He added that those with him are “all Americans."

A subsequent autopsy report by the National Bureau of Investigation indicated there were five deep and burnt puncture wounds on Gregan’s feet, on the left inner part of both legs and on the upper right arm.

A Mindanao-based human rights group from which Gregan’s family sought help, however, said the autopsy did not state other injuries that the family earlier noted when they saw Gregan’s cadaver at a Zamboanga City funeral home.

These other injuries, the human rights group claimed, included an enlarged scrotum, the enlarged opening of his anus, a deep wound on the upper right part of his neck and three injuries on his head.

Local police and military officials earlier maintained that Gregan indeed committed suicide based on evidence gathered, including a supposed suicide note he left behind.

Family friend killed

Meanwhile, Ignacio, a close friend of Gregan’s family and Wesmincom’s Military Police chief, reportedly started getting death threats for assisting the family in securing more information on Gregan’s death.

On March 26, just hours after attending the re-autopsy of Gregan’s body conducted by the Commission on Human Rights, Ignacio was gunned down by still unidentified suspects astride two motorcycles in Zamboanga City.

Ignacio sustained gunshot wounds in his back and head, and died on the spot.

To date, local police have yet to determine the motives or suspects behind Ignacio’s death, saying the area where he was shot was experiencing a blackout

Gregan’s family, however, maintained in their petition that Ignacio’s death was part of the attempt to “cover up" Gregan’s death.

Gregan, who was also a Christian pastor, left behind a wife and three children. (Jerrie m. Abella, JV, GMANews.TV)


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