The government must investigate mysterious death of Filipino in the barracks of U.S. troops in a military camp in Marawi City

Human rights alliance Karapatan, Kawagib Moro Human Rights Center and other human rights organizations in Mindanao, which formed the “Justice for Gregan Cardeño Movement,” supports the quest for justice of the family of the 33 year-old Gregan Cardeño, who died under mysterious circumstances on February 2, barely two days after being hired as an interpreter for US troops under the Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF)-Balikatan in Camp Ranao, Datu Saber, Marawi City, home of the 103rd Brigade of the Philippine Army.

Gregan Cardeño, a family man from Ipil, Zamboanga, applied as an interpreter for the US forces with the contracting company which hire employees for the troops in Zamboanga  He and his family were very happy that he would have a job that will earn money for the family.

On February 1, his wife, Myrna, even accompanied him to the Edwin Andrews Air Base in Zamboanga City, where Gregan was airlifted with three American soldiers, supposedly to Cotabato City then to his place of assignment in Camp Siongco, Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat Municipality, Maguindanao.

Two days later, Myra Cardeño claimed her husband’s body in La Merced Memorial homes in Zamboanga City. Gregan Cardeño allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself, midnight of February 2, 2010.

The Cardeño family does not believe that Gregan committed suicide because the victim had a conversation to his wife and sister prior to the incident, and he confessed that he was not brought to Cotabato, but to Marawi City instead, and that what he was asked to do when he arrived in the U.S. barracks at the 103rd Brigade, PA is inconsistent with the nature of the work that he signed up for. The family also finds the report of Philippine police and U.S. troops dubious, because of the wounds they saw on Gregan’s remains during autopsy.

Based on the following findings of the fact-finding mission conducted on March 2 to 5, Karapatan, Kawagib and Inpeace-Zamboanga, human rights advocates of Justice for Gregan Cardeño Movement, are prompted to conclude that there is foul play that led to the death of Gregan Cardeño:

  1. The lack of investigation, and the immediate recognition of the US troops on the motive as suicide, despite the fact that they have been trained with the basics and may even have experience in more sophisticated forms of investigation. They did not even secure the crime scene and allowed contamination of the place where Cardeño’s body was found.
  2. The police concurred with the US troops by immediately concluding that Cardeño’s death resulted from suicide without adequate and proper investigation.
  3. Material evidence to the case were deliberately destroyed, apparent to Gregan’s mobile phone emptied of its contents – phonebook directory, incoming or sent messages, photos and call register – despite SPO3 Ali Guibon Rangiris even using the phone to contact a family member on February 3, 2010 to report Gregan’s death; the bed sheet allegedly used by the victim to hang himself was not in the police custody.
  4. The photos that were taken by the police after Gregan’s body was recovered in the crime scene showed that Gregan was wearing green shirt, maong pants with his underwear partially shown, but when the cadaver was delivered to the funeral home, it was already without a shirt and only wearing a camouflaged cargo shorts.
  5. Gregan sustained puncture wounds on the right foot, on the left inner part of the leg and on the upper right arm, which contradicts the initial statement of SPO3 Ali Guibon Rangiris that there no defensive wounds on the arms of the victims when he was found.

Based on these facts, Karapatan believes that Gregan Cardeño is a victim of a heinous crime inside the barracks of the U.S. troops. We are one with his family in calling for justice.

We call on our government to address this incident, as this involves death of a Filipino under the employ of U.S. forces, inside the barracks of the foreign troops and within a Philippine military camp.  We hope that this will not go like the previous cases involving US troops.

We call upon the Philippine government to conduct a thorough investigation, and to help the Cardeño family in their quest for justice.  ###