On April 21, 2003, Eden Marcellana, who was then secretary general of Karapatan-Southern Tagalog, and Eddie Gumanoy, former chairperson of Kasama-TK (a peasant organization in Southern Tagalog) led a fact-finding mission in Mindoro Oriental based on reports of a series of abduction and killings committed by the 204th Infantry Battalion then under the command of Gen. Palparan. Their vehicle was stopped by armed men who asked for Marcellana. Marcellana and her team were tied and forced to ride a jeepney.
Marcellana and Gumanoy were ordered to step out of the jeep while others were dropped off in different parts of Bongabon, Mindoro Oriental. The next day, April 22, Marcellana and Gumanoy’s lifeless bodies were found in Bansud, Mindoro Oriental. Both sustained fatal gunshot wounds, while Marcellana’s face was smashed, apparently by a heavy material.
Palparan, who was also involved in the disappearance of Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, continues to elude arrest since December 2011, when a warrant was issued against him. This case is yet another indication of the reigning impunity in the country, despite the change of government from Arroyo to Aquino; despite the Aquino government’s posturing on human rights and the creation of so many investigative bodies under this government.
Karapatan has called on the Noynoy Aquino administration to: review the dismissal of the charges against Palparan et al. on the killings of Marcellana and Gumanoy and heed the views of the UNHRC regarding this case: provide effective remedy including initiation and pursuit of criminal proceedings to establish responsibility for the kidnapping and death of the victims; provide appropriate compensation to the victims’ families; and take measures to ensure that such violations do not recur in the future.
According to Cristina Palabay of Karapatan “It has been ten long years since the killing of human rights defender Eden Marcellana and peasant leader Eddie Gumanoy in 2003 but the families of both Marcellana and Gumanoy, and the rest of the Filipino people still await for justice to be served. The Aquino administration may not be directly accountable for the killing of Eden Marcellana and Eddie Gumanoy, but the Aquino government is responsible for the continuing impunity in the country that keeps the military killers out of jail”.