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Filipino Dies inside US Army Camp in Marawi, Philippines: Suicide or Made a Sex Pet?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Filipino Dies in US Army Camp in Marawi: Officials Rule Suicide; Kin Insist Murder

Published on March 10, 2010

On Jan. 30, Gregan Cardeño went home happy that he had finally found a job. He had just signed a contract with a security agency that posted him as an interpreter for the American troops in Cotabato City. A few days later, he ended up in Marawi where, inside a US barracks, he supposedly hanged himself. His family, however, is convinced that he had been murdered, probably even abused.

        [Manila, Philippines] On Jan. 30, Gregan Cardeño, 33, went home happy that he had finally found a job. That day, he signed a contract with SkyLink Security Agency. Although the contract states that he would work as a security guard, he was told by the agency that he would serve as an interpreter for the American troops in Cotabato City.

        "He was really happy that day. He even bought food, saying it was his despedida," said Loraine Cardeño, Gregan's sister-in-law. He even asked his brother to teach him how to drive, saying he may need the skill for his work. "He was a bit anxious, it was his first time to go to Cotabato," Loraine said. The family lives in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.

        On Feb. 1, Gregan's wife Myrna accompanied him to the Edwin Andrews Air Base in Zamboanga City where Gregan was to be flown to Cotabato en route to Camp Siongco, a military camp in Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat town, Maguindanao.

        Two days later, at around 2 p.m., Gregan's family received a call from SPO3 Ali Guibon Rangiris of the Philippine National Police in Marawi City, who told them that Gregan was dead, that he had committed suicide. His relatives couldn't believe the news.

Last Conversations

        The day before his death, at around 6:45 a.m., Gregan sent text messages to his elder sister Carivel saying that he had been brought instead to Marawi City, at Camp Ranao, in Datu Saber town, the home of the 103rd Brigade of the Philippine Army.

        Carivel called up Gregan. Gregan told her he was the only Filipino inside the US barracks. He told her was not an interpreter. When Carivel asked what was his actual job, Gregan could not answer and just kept crying. Gregan asked his sister to call SkyLink, ask for his salary and request for his pullout from the US barracks. "If I did not get out of here, this could be the cause of my death," Carivel said Gregan told her.

        On the same day, Myrna also got a call from Gregan. "If ever I go home, would you still accept me?" Gregan asked his wife. "Why?" Myrna replied. "Did you do anything wrong?" The line was suddenly cut.

Not Suicide

        Myrna said her husband could not have committed suicide. "He was a religious person. He knew that committing suicide is a sin. We do not have any problems," Myrna said in Visayan at a press conference in Quezon City this morning. Gregan was a Christian.

        The family sought the help of Kawagib, a human-rights group in Mindanao and InPeace-Zamboanga to search for the truth behind Gregan's death.

        On March 2 to 4, a fact-finding mission was conducted by Gregan's family and these cause-oriented groups. They were joined by members of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Iligan City. The team interviewed police authorities in Marawi City, officers of the 103rd Brigade of the Philippine Army and Captain Mike Kay, the team leader of the US forces stationed in Marawi City, among others.

        Grace, Gregan's sister who joined the mission, said they were not allowed to see the room where Gregan had supposedly commit suicide.

        Loraine said they also asked for pictures of Gregan while he was still hanging, a rolled-up blanket supposedly around his neck. They also asked for the alleged suicide letter. "To be honest, Ma'am, we were not able to take photographs. When we arrived there [crime scene], the body was already on the floor," Loraine quoted a policeman as telling her.

        Grace said they asked for the bed sheet allegedly used by Gregan to hang himself but the police said they left it with the Americans. "They [police] did not get the names of those present at the crime scene. They told us they do not have SOCO [Scene of the Crime Operatives] in Marawi and that they do not know how to investigate."

        Ali Bayla Indayla, Kawagib secretary-general, said that there was a conspiracy to make it appear that the cause of death was suicide. She said pieces of material evidence were not preserved. Besides the bed sheet that was not secured by the PNP, Indayla said Gregan's cell phone had been left unsealed. All the messages, call registers and photos had been erased, Indayla said. She noted that SPO3 Rangiris even used Gregan's phone to contact the family.

        Indayla added that the photos taken by SPO3 Rangiris show Gregan wearing a green shirt and a denim pants, with his underwear partially shown. When the relatives saw Gregan's body at the funeral home, he was not wearing a shirt and wore only a pair of camouflage cargo shorts.


        Indayla said Col. Felix Castro, deputy brigade commander of the 103rd Brigade, told the mission delegates that he never knew Gregan prior to his death. The officer also said he did not know all the activities of the American troops.

        On the other hand, Kay, the team leader of the US forces in Marawi, told the mission that they worked in close coordination with their Filipino counterparts. Kay also told the mission that SkyLink should be the one to answer all questions related to Gregan's death.

        Indayla said that even members of the CHR in Iligan were denied access to the camp. "They [CHR] told us that because the US troops, the military and the police refuse to cooperate with their investigation, they could not come up with a conclusion."


        Sensing foul play, the family requested the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Zamboanga City to do an autopsy on Gregan's body. The result was released March 4.

        The autopsy report indicates puncture wounds on Gregan's right foot, on the left inner part of the leg and on the upper right arm.

        Indayla, however, said that the autopsy did not indicate many other things, including Gregan's enlarged scrotum, the enlarged opening of his anus and injuries on his head.

        "They [US soldiers] made him a pet," Grace said. "They probably played with him."

        Lovella de Castro, Karapatan's secretary-general who also joined the mission, said they have every reason to believe that Gregan is a victim of a heinous crime.


        De Castro said they have already requested the CHR national office to conduct another autopsy on Gregan. The family will also file a complaint before the CHR tomorrow, March 11.

        "We call on our government to give attention to this incident, as this involves the death of a Filipino under the employ of US forces, inside the barracks of the foreign troops and within a Philippine military camp," de Castro said.

        De Castro said they would also file appropriate charges against the police and military for "obstruction of justice."

        Indayla said they will ask for the Philippine Congress and Senate to conduct an independent investigations into the incident. "We should have access to the US barracks inside the Philippine territory," Indayla said.

        "Given this new incident, the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) must be reviewed all the more," Indayla added.

        Since 2002, the US government has sent in its troops to supposedly train Filipino soldiers in counter-terrorism. Since then, they have made their presence felt not just in Basilan and Sulu but in several areas as well in Mindanao and Luzon.

(Reprinted with permission from Bulatlat.com)

State of calamity for outages mulled By Mario J. Mallari and Aytch S. de la Cruz 03/11/2010

Lease of power barges up

State of calamity for outages mulled

By Mario J. Mallari and Aytch S. de la Cruz

Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales yesterday recommended to President Arroyo that she declare a state of calamity in Mindanao for the government to properly address the ongoing power crisis in Mindanao.

“I think it’s really necessary that we declare a state of calamity in Mindanao, so we are recommending to the President that we will be declaring a state of calamity in Mindanao, entire Mindanao,” Gonzales told Camp Aguinaldo reporters after a meeting regarding the Mindanao power crisis at the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC).

Gonzales, also concurrent chairman of the NDCC, said the recommendation will not specify duration but vowed that such move will be lifted as soon as the power situation “normalizes.”

When asked if the measures will include lease of generator sets, Gonzales hedged, saying “The DoE will be studying all of those,” he said.

Gonzales dropped broad hints that the proposed state of calamity will be in effect until July when rains are expected to come. “The problem is that most of Mindanao is more dependent on hydropower and the supply of water has really been (depleted) so we hope that there will be rain or typhoons by July,” he said..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

ALTERNATE URL: http://www.tribune.net.ph/headlines/20100311hed1.html

Realities EDITORIAL 03/11/2010


Click to enlarge

Politicians seeking national seats need every vote that counts. This is a political reality. While they may court voters in vote rich regions, they also know that they have to get the support of other local politicians, to oil their political machines or organizations.

This is also the reason politicians woo Christian group leaders for their endorsements, chief of which of course is the Iglesia ni Cristo’s political endorsement, mainly because the Iglesia vote has proved, many times over, that it is a solid command vote, as this is reportedly what is required by Iglesia ministers of their flock.

In many instances too, the Iglesia vote can become an important swing vote in presidential elections, if the polls prove to be a tight race.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

ALTERNATE URL: http://www.tribune.net.ph/commentary/20100311com1.html

No assurance of AFP professionalism FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 03/11/2010

No assurance of AFP professionalism

Ninez Cacho-Olivares

Gen. Delfin Bangit, the new Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff, claimed in his speech yesterday that he has stayed loyal to Gloria Arroyo because she had never given him an illegal order. He also said that under his leadership, the AFP will protect the citizens’ vote as if it were the military’s own.

This was pronounced by Bangit amid charges of electoral fraud to be engaged in by the military under his command.

The military, all AFP chiefs of staff claim — including Bangit — is a professional force, and obeys the Constitution.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

ALTERNATE URL: http://www.tribune.net.ph/commentary/20100311com2.html

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