The abduction and torture of Fil-American Melissa Roxas,

Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc

 

Tarlac

 

June 2, 2009    Updated June 26, 2009

 

 

■   Medical Certificate, Petition for the Writ of Amparo and Affidavit of Fil-Am Melissa Roxas

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■   Bayan reports on the abduction and torture of Fil=Am Roxas, Carabeo and Handoc

 

 

■   Statements of KARAPATAN, Bayan-USA, New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, KMU and others

 

■   Fact and fiction

 

■   News Reports: New York Times, Bulatlat, Pinoy Weekly

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    Dearest Friends,

    The recent birth of my niece reminds me that life is something more than just presence, it is the earth rising inside of you, the earth that has been there since the beginning, but taking a different form.

    I started to think about all the other babies I had seen as a community health worker in the Philippines before my niece was born. The marking of before and after, beginnings and endings. I remember their mothers taking them in for health screenings and basic check ups. Infants who went untreated for days with a fever, the softness in their eyes gives way to a hardness, their skin was tight from dehydration, they were so tiny, their hand in mine was as little as my thumbnail. I remember how much I wanted them to get better and be alive. With so many babies, children and families that I’ve met, I realized that the disease they had was more than an epidemic of typhoid fever, cholera, or malaria, it was the disease of poverty and oppression.

    When I started to work more with particular issues of human rights violations I also met different babies, babies and children who had lost their mothers and fathers to a different death. A horrible and preventable death that takes the life not only of its victim, but robs the whole family and the world of their presence, all because they advocated and fought for a better world where their children have genuine freedom, a just peace, and true democracy.

    Each day I was with the community, I learned how precious a birth can be, how to appreciate life, and I slowly began to understand what they meant when they whispered me their names and told their stories. There are no deaths that are forgotten, no fathers, no mothers, no sisters and brothers, aunts, uncles, or cousins that are forgotten. They live in the births of new babies each day.

     

     

     

    When my own experience of abduction and torture ended and I was reunited with my family it was not a second birth for me, I realized that it is a continuing journey for the search for truth and justice. Repressive governments and military use torture as a form of control, to instill fear in people in debilitating ways, so they stay quiet and lose their light inside. But I realized no amount of pain or suffering or fear can stop that earth in me to keep rising. Instead it gave birth to new births. My experience has convinced me even more of the value of freedom and justice and the importance of fighting for and upholding the principles of human rights and human dignity.

    Me being able to write this right now is testimony of how your collective love, support, prayers, and action is helping me and others like me through this experience. I know that your support is also part of a larger movement to create change towards a world free of poverty and oppression. Thank you to friends and family, family and friends of other desaparecidos, progressive people’s organizations, human rights groups, lawyers, civil rights advocates, church people’s organizations, concerned individuals, fellow poets and artists, and all believers in human rights and justice.

    There are many more desaparecidos, more abductions, torture and extra-judicial killings going on in the Philippines and around the world. Let the new birth come where there is an end to all of the killings, abductions, and torture. Let the noise come from all directions—they are no longer whispers but shouts for justice.

    Love,
    Melissa Roxas

    June 22, 2009

     

               

     

    Abducted Fil-Am activist tortured, files Writ of Amparo
    from: www.bayan.ph

     

    Now it can be told.

    Abducted Filipino-American activist Melissa Roxas, who was forcibly taken by armed men in La Paz, Tarlac last May 19 and surfaced six days later, was subjected to physical and mental torture during her captivity. She now seeks the protection of the Supreme Court for herself and her relatives here in the Philippines.

    Roxas is a member of BAYAN-USA , the overseas chapter of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan. She arrived in Los Angeles, California Monday morning June 1, Philippine time, to be reunited with her family. She has not faced the media or issued any statement since her release because of the trauma left by her abduction.

    Based on her petition for a Writ of Amparo and based on her sworn testimony, Roxas was held for six days blindfolded and in handcuffs in an area suspected of being a military camp in Nueva Ecija, possibly Fort Magsaysay, headquarters of the 7th Infantry Division. It is a short distance from La Paz, Tarlac where she was abducted. During her captivity, Roxas said she heard radio communications where people were addressed as “Sir”. She also heard what she believed to be was a firing range as well as the sounds of aircraft.

    Respondents in the petition for a writ of Amparo include President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, AFP Chief of Staff Victor Ibrado, Philippine National Police chief P/Dir. Gen. Jesus Verzosa and Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit, commanding general of the Philippine Army.

    During the time of detention, Roxas was denied counsel, subjected to torture via asphyxiation using a plastic bag and was hit repeatedly by her interrogators. She was forced to admit that she was a member of the New People’s Army and was asked to return to the fold of law.
    Roxas was dropped off in front of her house around 6:30am on May 25. Her captors left her with a SIM card and phone as well as the handcuffs they used on her. One of her interrogators even called her on the phone after she was dropped off.

    “There is credible basis to say that Melissa was abducted by the military as part of the government’s counter-insurgency operations. The abduction and torture were clear violations of her rights. It is despicable and those involved must be made accountable,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

    “The Arroyo government must now address this issue. For the past few days, it has systematically attempted to cover up the incident. The Ermita-led Presidential Commission on Human Rights has called the abduction a ‘fabrication’ by Bayan and Karapatan. Defense secretary and presidential aspirant Gilbert Teodoro has not conducted any investigation in the military’s involvement,” Reyes said.

     

    Bayan said that the matter has also been brought to the attention of the United States government through its embassy in Manila.
     

    “We cannot just let this incident pass. We do not raise these issues simply because we want to discredit the government, as the PHRC alleges. We raise these issues because we want an end to these abductions, torture and other extra-legal activities being undertaken by state security forces,” Reyes said.

    “We demand that the incident be investigated and that the PHRC withdraw its earlier statements that the incident was a fabrication,” he added. ####

     


     

         

     

    BULATLAT LIVE! TWITTER FEED
     

    • ROXAS ABDUCTION: Melissa was released because she is american, enriquez says. It would've been disastrous for govt if she wasn't freed. about 4 hours ago

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    • ROXAS ABDUCTION: Enriquez says officially john edward handoc remains missing. 'he texted his family but he hasn't been seen,' she says. about 4 hours ago

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    • ROXAS ABDUCTION: Renato reyes of bayan denounces secretary eduardo ermita for insisting NPA töok melissa. 'it's clear AFP took her.' about 4 hours ago

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    • ROXAS ABDUCTION: aya santos of desaparecidos says military personnel involved should be punished. End Oplan bantay laya! she says. about 4 hours ago

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    • ROXAS ABDUCTION: Will take years for melissa to recover from trauma of her abduction and torture, says dr. Pamugas. about 5 hours ago

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    • ROXAS ABDUCTION: Melissa couldnt eat well, terrified, paranoid, was reexperiencing the trauma, says Pamugas. 'Acute stress disorder.' about 5 hours ago

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    • ROXAS ABDUCTION: Dr. reggie pamugas of health action for human rights examined melissa. He now points to injuries melissa sustained. about 5 hours ago

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    • ROXAS ABDUCTION: melissa was tortured and remains deeply traumatized, enriquez says. 'She was warned not to talk to karapatan.' about 5 hours ago

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    • ROXAS ABDUCTION: Enriquez says melissa, john edward handoc, juanito carabeo may have been brought to AFP's fort magsaysay. about 5 hours ago


     

               

     

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    June 2, 2009
    Reference: Rhonda Ramiro, Secretary General, BAYAN-USA, 415-37..., secgen@bayanusa.org

    U.S.-Trained and Funded Philippine Military Implicated in Abduction and Torture of American Citizen

    Alliance of Filipino American Organizations Vows to Hold U.S. and Philippine Governments Accountable and Demands End to U.S. Taxpayer Support for Philippine Military

    The U.S. Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN-USA, denounced the abduction and torture of Melissa Roxas by suspected elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. An American citizen of Filipino descent, Roxas is a well-known Filipino American human rights advocate and was BAYAN-USA’s first Regional Coordinator in Los Angeles, CA and a founding member of the Los Angeles-based cultural organization Habi Arts. Roxas’ sworn affidavit about the torture she experienced from May 19-25, 2009 while in captivity was made public today when she filed a Petition for a Writ of Amparo and Habeus Data with the Philippine Supreme Court, seeking protection from further harm for herself and her family.

    In the affidavit, Roxas describes being abducted by approximately 15 armed men, thrown in a van, handcuffed and blindfolded for six days, and dragged from jail cell to jail cell. She recounts being subjected to torture via asphyxiation using a doubled-up plastic bag, repeated beatings to the face and body, and having her head banged repeatedly against the wall by her interrogators. Roxas said that one interrogator stated those who tortured her were from the Special Operations Group (SOG), and she heard one of her interrogators addressed as “Sir.” She also heard gunfire from what she believed to be a firing range as well as the sounds of aircraft, pointing to the high probability that she was held in a military camp. She was denied legal counsel despite her persistent requests and forced to say that she was a member of the New People’s Army.

    Roxas was dropped off near her relative’s house around 6:30 AM on May 25. Her captors left her with a SIM card and phone, which one of her interrogators used to contact her after she was released.

    “We are distraught that Melissa was subjected to such cruel, inhuman, and blatantly illegal treatment as a result of the Philippine government’s counter-insurgency witch hunt,” stated BAYAN-USA Chair Berna Ellorin. “We must hold the perpetrators of this torture accountable, up to and including the U.S. government which is providing military aid and training to the Philippine military.”

    Rather than conducting an investigation into the torture of Roxas and the abduction of her and her companions Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Jandoc, the Philippine Presidential Human Rights Commission (PHRC) issued a statement claiming that the incident was fabricated by BAYAN Philippines and human rights group Karapatan, and that the disappearance of the three involved immersion with the New People's Army (NPA). The statement from the PHRC was posted on the website of the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC on May 28, 2009. Evidence such as official police reports clearly show that the statement was filled with serious factual errors and erroneous speculations; the PHRC statement even falsely cited the non-governmental organizations Asian Federation Against Disappearances (AFAD) and Coalition Against Involuntary Disappearances (CAID). In an open letter to Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Willy Gaa regarding the PHRC statement, AFAD wrote,
     

     

    “Our Federation is shocked by the content of the said statement, citing us as one of the sources of the information related to the above-mentioned case. We categorically deny ownership of the information mentioned in the statement as a source of our alleged initial investigation…We find it appalling to be considered as a more credible human rights organization compared to Karapatan, since we believe that such a statement is divisive and therefore, uncalled for… While our Federation independently works on the issue of enforced disappearances and despite our differences with other organizations, we also coordinate with the CAID as well as with Karapatan, whose constituency bears the brunt of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings during the present administration.”

    Despite the public outcry for a retraction of the statement, the Philippine Embassy has yet to remove the statement from its website.

    “We are incensed that the Philippine government continues to deny that Melissa’s abduction ever took place,” said Ellorin. “The Philippine government's attempted cover-up of the triple abduction is consistent with their constant denial of responsibility for the more than 1,000 extra-judicial killings and 201 enforced disappearances, despite condemnation and documentation from international human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as the United Nations,” said Ellorin. “The tactic of red-baiting and vilification of the victim by Philippine authorities, now also being employed against Melissa, is a common finding in the numerous reports written by international human rights monitoring agencies.”

    Roxas’ exposé comes on the heels of the visit of U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates to the Philippines. During his meetings with Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, Gates affirmed the Obama administration’s commitment to so-called “counter-terrorism efforts” in the Philippines as well as for the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). The VFA is an agreement which BAYAN-USA views as the red carpet which paved the way for U.S. military advisers, troops and equipment to train and equip the Philippine military which has been implicated in 1,017 extra-judicial killings and 1,010 cases of torture.

    “The torture of Melissa and the triple abduction of Melissa, Juanito and John Edward are directly linked to the VFA and U.S. military aid to the Philippines,” said Ellorin. “The U.S. government cannot claim ignorance or wash its hands of responsibility, when it is U.S. advisors who are training the Philippine military. The recent uncovering of ‘the torture papers’ shows that the U.S. has never stopped employing torture as an ‘enhanced interrogation technique.’”

    “It is utterly apalling that Gates is pledging more support for the Philippine military, in light of Melissa’s sworn testimony,” continued Ellorin. “Her abduction should give Congress and the Obama administration even more reason to stop pouring billions of dollars into a regime that abducts, tortures, and kills innocent people. If the Obama administration and Congress are serious about creating real change, they should cut off all aid to the Philippines during the budget appropriations process this summer.”

    BAYAN-USA is an alliance of progressive Filipino groups in the U.S. representing organizations of students, scholars, women, workers, and youth. As an international chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYAN-USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of the Philippines and as a campaign center for anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. BAYAN-USA’s online petition against the VFA can be found at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/JunkVFAnow/. The online petition to demand justice for Roxas, Carabeo, and Handoc can be found at http://www.gopetition.com/online/28021.html.
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    Melissa Exhibition in Los Angeles

    Photo from FilipinoOnline:

    http://filipinonline.blogspot.com/2009/06/exclusive-melissa-roxas-back-in-los_01.html

     

               
    Medical Certificate, Petition for the Write of Amparo and Affidavit of Fil-American Melissa Roxas
               

     

     MEDICAL CERTIFICATE

     

                 This is to certify that we have seen and examined MELISSA C. ROXAS , 31 years old, female, single, at #60 Samar Ave., South Triangle, Quezon City.

    Circumstances that led to consult as narrated by patient are the following:

     

    On May 19, 2009, at around 1:30pm, patient was forcibly taken together with two other persons in Kapanikian, La Paz, Tarlac.

     

    They were brought to an unidentified area and where patient says she was ‘interrogated’ and ‘beaten” while blindfolded and handcuffed. Patient was beaten: kicked and punched in different areas of her body; she was choked; two cellophane bags were put over and around her head while her arms and legs were being stretched. She was also pushed against the wall, and her head was banged against the wall several times.

     

    During the ‘interrogation’, patient was threatened to be killed if she does not admit to being an NPA.

     

    In the morning of May 25, 2009, she was brought to her relative’s house in Quezon City by unidentified men.

               

               Patient at time of examination was conscious, coherent, weak, ambulatory but limps, favoring the right side of the body. She also complained of pain in different parts of her body where she said she was hit. Several abrasions were noted and tenderness over the epigastric area.

     

                Relatives of the patient narrated that she would not eat in the first day she came back. She was also hypervigilant, had difficulty falling and maintaining sleep and was afraid to go out of the room and would not want to be alone. She would often cry and express fear and anxiety.

     

    DIAGNOSIS:

     

    1. Multiple abrasions

     

    a) Left knee area, measuring 5x5 cm

    b) Right knee, measuring 1x1 cm

    c) Left wrist area linear, 3.5 cm in length

    d) Right wrist area, three abrasions, each 1 cm in length

     

    2. Acute Stress Disorder

     

     

    Geneve E. Rivera-Reyes, MD                                       Reginaldo L. Pamugas, MD

    284 E. Rodriguez Ave.,QC                                           284 E. Rodriguez Ave.,QC

    Lic No. 101348, Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD)     Lic. No. 93332,

    Tel No. 725.4760                                                        Tel No. 725.4760                   

    Date: May 29, 2009                                                     Health Action for Human Rights (HAHR)

     

    Download medical ceretificate in Word format

     

     

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    Petition for Write of Amparo

    and Habeas Data

     

    Republic of the Philippines

    SUPREME COURT

    Manila

     

    IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION

    FOR THE WRIT OF AMPARO

    AND HABEAS DATA IN FAVOR

    OF MELISSA C. ROXAS,

                                

                                                              SP. PROC. NO. _________

                FOR: Writ of Amparo and Habeas Data with prayers for Protection Orders, an Order of Inspection of Place, and Production of Documents

    MELISSA C. ROXAS,

                                                     Petitioner,

               

              - versus -

     

    GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO,

    GILBERT TEODORO,

    GEN. VICTOR S IBRADO, 

                P/DIR. GEN. JESUS AME VERZOSA,

                LT. GEN. DELFIN N BANGIT,

    PCSUPT LEON NILO A. DELA CRUZ,

    MAJ. GEN. RALPH VILLANUEVA,

    PSSUPT. RUDY GAMIDO LACADIN,

    CERTAIN PERSONS WHO GO

    BY THE NAMES DEX, RC, AND ROSE

    X - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - /

     

     

     

    PETITION FOR THE WRIT OF AMPARO

    AND PETITION FOR THE WRIT OF HABEAS DATA

    WITH PRAYERS FOR PROTECTION ORDERS

    INSPECTION OF PLACE, AND PRODUCTION OF DOCUMENTS AND PERSONAL PROPERTIES

    PETITIONERS, through Counsel, and unto this Most Honorable Court, respectfully avers:

    1.  That petitioner is a U.S. Citizen and has temporary residence in Quezon City and is the aggrieved party and victim in this Petition and she can be served with processes of this Honorable Court at her attorneys-in-fact and her lawyer’s address at Second Floor, Erythrina Bldg., 1 Maaralin corner Matatag streets, Barangay Sentral, Diliman, Quezon City;                                         

    2.      Respondents are: GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO, the President of the Philippines and who can be served with summons and other court processes and matters at Malacañang Palace, Manila,  SEC. GILBERT TEODORO, Secretary of Defense, and who can be served with summons and other court processes and matters at Camp Aguinaldo, EDSA, Quezon City, GEN. VICTOR S. IBRADO,  Commanding General of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and who can be served with summons and other court processes and matters at Camp Aguinaldo, EDSA, Quezon City, P/DIR. GEN. JESUS AME VERZOSA, the Director General of the Philippine National Police, and who can be served with summons and other court processes and matters at Camp Crame, EDSA, Quezon City,  LT. GEN. DELFIN N. BANGIT, the Commanding General of the Philippine Army, and who can be served with summons and other court processes and matters at Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, MM,  PCSUPT LEON NILO A. DELA CRUZ, the Regional Director of the Philippine National Police Region Office III,  and who can be served with summons and other court processes and matters at Camp Olivas, San Fernando, Pampanga, MAJ. GEN. RALPH VILLANUEVA, Commanding General Of the Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Division, and who can be served with summons and other court processes and matters at Fort Magsaysay, Laur, Nueva Ecija, PSSUPT. RUDY GAMIDO LACADIN, Police Director of the Province of Tarlac, and who can be served summons and other court processes and matters at Camp Macabulos, Tarlac City, Tarlac, and CERTAIN PERSONS WHO GO BY THE NAMES DEX, RC, and ROSE and they being members or officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines can be served summons, court processes and matters at Camp Aguinaldo, EDSA, Quezon City;

      

    3.  MELISSA C. ROXAS with two other companions, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Jandoc,  were abducted and kidnapped by about 15 armed men with strong evidence of being military personnel on the early afternoon of May 19, 2009 at La Paz, Tarlac, Philippines and were forcibly brought to a place which is strongly believed to be Fort Magsaysay;

    4.  Petitioner and her companions were abducted and kidnapped without any legal ground, authority and basis for being believed by their abductors and kidnappers to be members of the  CPP - New People’s Army; 

    5.  Petitioner underwent tactical interrogation and was tortured (attached is her affidavit and medical certificate as Annexes “A” and “B” with reservation on the marking of a Book entitled Love in Times of Cholera as Annex “A-1”, the Holy Bible St. James Version as Annex “A-2”, the handcuffs with lot number 4760 and made in Taiwan, as Annex “A-3”, a slip of paper with an email address and password as Annex “A-4”, a blouse as Annex “A-5” and a pair of white shoes as Annex “A-5”) heavily causing trauma and depression and fear for her life; 

              6.  The lives, liberty and security of Petitioner and her uncle and family have been threatened by the abductors and kidnappers of Petitioner and are in real imminent danger and threat; 

    7.  The distance of the travel and the sounds heard by Petitioner in the place where the Petitioner and the two men were brought as well as the buildings described by Petitioner are places inside Fort Magsaysay; 

    8.  When Petitioner was abducted, Karapatan made investigations of her disappearance and reported the matter to police authorities (attached hereto is the police report as Annex “C”); 

    9.  The initial reports tallied with the same patterns of abduction and kidnapping done by military forces to commit the crime with impunity and done brazenly only which can be done by people who are authorities; 

    10.  The police and military authorities and the Office of the President have not done anything to investigate their personnel in the commission of this dastardly crime and if any investigation was made, the investigation was shallow and pro-forma without any intention of really solving the crime; 

    11.  The Petitioner has been declared by those who abducted her as being in the Order of Battle (OB) and haS been investigated to be a member of the CPP - NPA without the presence of counsel despite persistent demand for one.  The labeling and listing her in the OB is a violation of her privacy rights and these list and label must be expunged from the records including all records taken during the said tactical interrogation; 

    12.  A camera containing a memory card, an Ipod, the laptop and the journal, which contain materials private to the petitioner, which were taken from her be returned including the sphygmomanometer, stethoscope, the medicine, the Ps. 15,000.00 cash robbed from her; 

    13.  That Petitioner has exhausted all efforts legally available and that there is no other plain, speedy, and adequate remedy to protect the rights of the victims except by this application for a Writ of Amparo.   

    PRAYER 

    WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is most respectfully prayed unto this Honorable Court that a WRIT OF AMPARO ORDERING THE RESPONDENTS:

     

    GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO,

    GILBERT TEODORO,

    GEN. VICTOR S IBRADO,

                P/DIR. GEN. JESUS AME VERZOSA,

                LT. GEN. DELFIN N BANGIT,

    PCSUPT LEON NILO A. DELA CRUZ,

    MAJ. GEN. RALPH VILLANUEVA,

    PSSUPT. RUDY GAMIDO LACADIN,

    CERTAIN PERSONS WHO GO

    BY THE NAMES DEX, RC, ROSE

     

    FURTHERMORE, it is likewise most respectfully prayed unto this Most Honorable Court to issue a Protection Order in favor of PETITIONER MELISSA C. ROXAS and her family including her uncle, Ruben Roxas, and his family against and from respondents and to enjoin respondents from doing harm or even approaching the said persons.

     

    IN THE EVENT THAT THE RESPONDENTS WOULD DENY CUSTODY, it is most respectfully prayed unto this Most Honorable Court to allow the inspection of detention areas in 7th Infantry Division at Fort Magsaysay, Laur, Nueva Ecija.

     

    ALSO, it is also most respectfully prayed unto this Honorable Court to order respondents GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO, to produce documents submitted to her in the matter of any report on the case of MELISSA ROXAS.

     

    LIKEWISE, to order the other respondents to produce any report submitted to them regarding the matter of MELISSA ROXAS, including but not limited to intelligence reports prior to, during and subsequent to May 19, 2009, operation reports prior to, during and subsequent to May 19, 2009, provost marshall reports during and subsequent to May 19,  2009 of the 7th Infantry Division, the Special Operations Group under the Armed Forces of the Philippines or its subsidiaries or those under its branch, including the 7th infantry Division.

     

    Furthermore, to order that the records pertinent or connected in any way to MELISSA C. ROXAS or MELISSA ROXAS, or any name which might sound or approximate the same in the hands of respondent be expunged and should forever be disabused and should not be used anymore.

     

    FINALLY, to return to Petitioner the camera containing a memory card, the IPOD, the laptop and the journal which were taken from her, which contain materials private to the petitioner, be returned including the sphygmomanometer, stethoscope, the medicine, and the Ps. 15,000.00 cash robbed from her;

             

     

    DONE.  QUEZON, CITY, PHILIPPINES.  MAY 28, 2009. 

     

     

    REX J.M.A. FERNANDEZ

    PTR 5441971, 1/07/09, Prov. Cebu LIFETIME MEMBER NO. 01032, Cebu

    Second Flr., Erythrina Bldg.,

    Maaralin corner Matatag sts.,

    Barangay Sentral, Quezon City

    Roll 37453, Page 491, Book  XV

    MCLE Compliance II 001709, 3/12/09

     

     

                EXPLANATION:  SERVICE TO RESPONDENTS IS DONE by registered mail due to lack of personnel and distance.  (See attached Affidavit of service) 

     

     

                                                                                        REX J.M.A. FERNANDEZ

     

     Republic of the Philippines)

    Quezon City.......................) S.S

     

    VERIFICATION AND CERTIFICATION

     

                I, MELISSA C. ROXAS, of legal age, U.S. Citizen and a temporary resident of Quezon City, after having been sworn to in accordance with law, do hereby depose and state that: she is the Petitioner in the above-entitled Petition; she has caused the preparation of the above Petition and has read and knows the same; the allegations therein are true and correct of her own personal knowledge; she has not filed nor commenced any action or proceedings involving the same issues nor is there any proceedings or action pending before the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals or in any tribunal or agency with the same issues and parties and in the event that Petitioner would know that there is an action or proceedings involving the same issues and parties, she undertakes to notify this Honorable Court of the pendency of the said action within five (5) days from knowledge thereof. 

     

     

                                                                                        MELISSA C. ROXAS

     

                SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN to before me this __th day of October 2007 at Quezon City, Philippines by affiant who showed to me her U.S. Passport No. 443307364,  with expiry date on June 1, 2018 and issued at the US Embassy Manila.

     

    REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES)

    QUEZON CITY………………………) s.s.

     

     

    AFFIDAVIT OF SERVICE

     

     

                I, OLIVIA BERNARDO, of legal age, Filipino and resident of Quezon City, Philippines, after having been sworn to in accordance with law, do hereby depose and state that:

     

                I am a staff member of Karapatan with the Service Department of said human rights organization;

     

                I furnished a copy of the Petition for a Writ of Amparo each to the following through private courier attaching hereto the corresponding receipts:

     

    GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO

     

    GILBERT TEODORO

     

    GEN. VICTOR S IBRADO

     

                P/DIR. GEN. JESUS AME VERZOSA

     

                LT. GEN. DELFIN N BANGIT

     

    PCSUPT LEON NILO A. DELA CRUZ

     

    MAJ. GEN. RALPH VILLANUEVA

     

    PSSUPT. RUDY GAMIDO LACADIN

     

    A CERTAIN DEX

     

    A CERTAIN RC

     

    A CERTAIN ROSE

     

     

                I am executing this affidavit to state the truth of the aforegoing statements.

     

                IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I hereunto affix this signature this __th day of May 2009 at Quezon City, Philippines. 

     

                                                                                        OLIVIA BERNARDO

     

                SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN to before me this __th day of May 2009 at Quezon City, Philippines by affiant who showed to me her Passport No. xx19589505, issued on September 4, 2008 at Manila.

     

     Dwonload petition for writ of amparo in Word format

     

     

    REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES)

    QUEZON CITY……………………) s.s.

     

    AFFIDAVIT

     

                I, Melissa C. Roxas, of legal age, a Citizen of the United States of America, and temporarily residing at Quezon City, Philippines, after having been sworn to in accordance with law, do hereby depose and state that:

     

                1.  I am a graduate of the University of California San Diego with a BS in Animal Physiology and Neuroscience and a BA in Third World Studies with a Minor in Health Care and Social Issues;

     

    2.  I applied for an exposure program in the Philippines being the home country of my parents with Bayan – USA of which I am a member for the purpose of gathering materials for my writing project being also a member of Habi Arts, a community based artist organization based in Los Angeles, California;

     

    3.  Bayan – USA endorsed me to Bayan –National and Bayan – National endorsed me to Bayan – Central Luzon which toured me around the provinces and towns of Central Luzon and on April 2009, Bayan – Central Luzon endorsed me to Bayan – Tarlac where I was to join with their members at La Paz, Tarlac to conduct an initial survey of the place for a future medical mission;

     

    4.  I brought along with me my camera with a memory card, an external hard disk, a laptop, an Ipod, a journal, a blood pressure sphygmomanometer, a stethoscope, thermometers, medicines, my watch, and a wallet with money in the amount of Ps. 15,000.00;

     

    5.  On May 19, 2009, while resting from a survey at a friendly house, the owner of which gladly accepted our request that we rest at his house and while watching a noon time Television program, at around 1:30 p.m., I and my two companions, John Edward Jandoc and Juanito Carabeo, heard a banging on the front door and a voice asking that the door be opened.  I immediately went to see what was going on and found about 15 men in civilian clothes armed with high power rifles and wearing ski masks or bonnets surrounding the house and in a little while, the door was forcibly opened and armed men swarmed into the house coming from the front door and the back door and ordered us to drop face flat on the ground;

     

    6.  I did not obey them and I wanted to stand up to protest the intrusion but an armed man held my head and forced it down pushing me to a squatting position then pushed me on the ground.  I asked them why they were doing this to us and I saw that everybody in the house was on the ground flat;

     

    7.  They attempted to tape my mouth but I was able to wrench it and they wanted to handcuff me but I resisted and about five of the armed men were ganging up on me, holding my hands and my legs but I continued resisting them and shouting to the owner of the house, “Kuya, help me.”

     

    8.  I then started to shout my name, repeating it again and again, I was punched repeatedly at my right rib cage while my two companions who were already blindfolded and taped at the mouth were herded to a blue van about 15 meters from the house door and I with all my strength tried to stop the armed men from putting me into the van and they instead started to drag me bruising and wounding my arms and my legs wounding severely my left knee cap while I continued shouting my name;

     

    9.  When they started to force me inside the van via the side door, I locked my feet on the door sidings and they needed more than 5 men to push me.  But then, they finally were able to push me inside the van; I was made to sit between two of the armed men and was immediately blindfolded and handcuffed to the back.  But they could not tape my mouth because I was already retching and vomiting;

     

    10.  When the van started moving, my head was put down so that I could not be seen from the outside;

     

    11.  After more than an hour, we stopped and we were told to step down and because I was still retching, they made me sit or half lie on a kind of lounging chair made of bamboo slats and at that point, I did not know where my two companions were;

     

    12.  After more than 5 minutes sitting down in that bamboo lounging chair, I was brought into a room with a screen metal door and the room sounded like it had a kitchen as there was running water and I could hear cleaning activities but I was still vomiting and I heard a command was made to a woman to clean my vomit and a man asked me whether I was pregnant but I did not answer him;

     

    13.  Another man who I felt was in command asked me if I knew why I was there and I answered him that I knew my rights and that I demanded for my lawyer and he laughed telling me that in the said place there was no availing of a lawyer (walang abogado-abogado dito) and told me that “malinis ka naming nakuha at alam mo naman bakit ka nahuli?” (we got you smoothly and you know why you were captured?)

     

    14.  Then he told me that I was a member of the CPP-NPA and I retorted that I was not and I demanded for my lawyer again and I felt that there were other men inside;

     

    15.  I was made to enter a room which I felt was a jail cell because as I entered the room, they had to open a door with iron bars and for my two days stay inside that cell, I sensed that my bed was a single wooden bed without  mattress, with a length of 6 feet and I was always made to lie down with my head positioned on  the wall where the iron barred door was located and at my foot was a low partitioned space where a toilet bowl was and after it was a wall where there were holes serving as windows.  I discerned that in the room before entering the jail cell was a bunk but I do not know the whole contents of that room;

     

    16.  When I was made to enter the jail cell, I was still blindfolded and handcuffed to the back and I remained in such position until the dawn of the next day when they changed the position of my hands to be handcuffed to the front and because of which my wrists were severely cut and bruised;

     

    17.  It must be stated here that throughout my abduction, I was always blindfolded and handcuffed even in my sleep except for those few times when I was made to take a bath;

     

    18.  During my two days there, I heard construction activities – blowtorching, hammering and the construction bustle – and these stopped in the late afternoon and I also heard gunfiring as though in a firing range and planes taking off and landing and it was loud and I could also hear goats bleating;

     

    19.  Later in the evening, I was brought out of my cell and I was confronted by two burly men in ski mask or bonnet and they shone their flashlights on my face and after a short while, they put me back into my cell and said, “ punta tayo sa kabilang gate.” (let’s go to the other gate);

     

    20.  I slept light that first night, determined to always know the time, and when morning came, I was interrogated and no breakfast nor lunch was given to me and I was asked repeatedly if I knew why I was there and was told by them that I was abducted because I was a member of the CPP NPA and I also repeatedly told him that I have rights and that I demanded for my lawyer and then he told me that even a year will pass, no lawyer would be seeing me and told me repeatedly that it was because of people like me who are the costing the government so much money and people like me are the ones who are making it difficult for the government, so that they are resorting to what they are doing and asked me who my lawyer was and I told him that it was Atty. Romy Capulong and he seemed to be stymied by my answer;

     

    20.  He continued asking me questions which I was not listening to and I was not answering and after 30 minutes of that he stopped and left;

     

    21.  After a while, another person entered and interrogated me along the same lines of questions and I did not listen and did not answer but instead told them that I knew my rights and that I wanted my lawyer and about 15 minutes of that, he left and I was already feeling hungry but no food was forthcoming and in the afternoon, many people were going in and out of the room and in and out of my cell and in the evening, I was made to eat and I ate little and then one of the men asked me if he could bathe me and I of course refused but there was this woman who was kind of assisting the men in attending to me and who I came to know later as Rose and she directed me to take a bath and brought me to another building (passing through a sometimes grassy and sometimes graveled pathway) where I saw through my blindfold two double decked beds and I assumed that it was a female barracks and there was a bath room with a jalousie typed window and I took a bath with one hand free from its cuff but with a hanging cuff on the other and my eyes free from the blindfold;

     

    22.  I was brought back to my cell blindfolded again and handcuffed at the front and I was made to lie down and after a short while, the iron barred doors were banged making clanking sound and I was taken aback and two men entered my cell with one of the man calling the other, “Tatay”, and a man pulled my cuffed hands up raising me on a sitting position and then a fist struck me at my upper sternum and it hurt and then a thumb was pressed strongly to my throat (I heard somebody saying “huh!...huh…huh.”) choking me,  making me suffocate for quite a time and when he released the pressure I gagged and I coughed and then he struck me with his fist on my left jaw ringing my ears and numbing my jaw and they were telling me, “Ang tigas ng ulo mo.  Sasagot ka na sa mga tanong.”  He kept repeating the questions and his pressure on my throat and fists to my jaw. An hour after, they left.  But before they left, he said, “matigas ‘to.  Barilin na lang natin” and I prepared for the worst;

     

    23.  It must have been very late night or early dawn, when he came back to me and he dragged me to the first room and I sensed that there was a kind of leader of the group who kept on whispering on that person who was manhandling me and two other men and the man who got me from my cell asked me, “handa ka bang mamatay?” and I answered, “Opo” and then he told me, “bago namin patayin ang isang tao, mapapaihi at mapapatae muna namin siya”;

     

    24.  The whispering man kept whispering questions to be asked and the manhandling man kept asking the questions and I told him that I have rights and that I was demanding for my lawyer but when he asked me about my name, I told them but when they asked other questions, I did not answer and he would hit me on the chest strongly and I would lose breath and gasped for air after and then he would press my throat with his thumb and say “Huh…huh…huh!” and I would gag and then he would hit me on my jaws, ringing my ears and numbing my jaws and he repeated this and added another one by holding my head with his two hands and banging the back of my head repeatedly and each time it hit the wall, I would see a flash of white bright light and ringing in my ears and again the pressure to my throat with the “Huh … huh…huh.” And saying to me, “ayaw mo pa din magsasalita” and then punched me in my rib cage and I crumpled but the other men forced me up.  This torture continued and every time I crumpled the other men would force me up. 

     

    25.  I was having a streaming thought that I was going to die there and then, they held my feet and my hands down and doubled up plastic bags were pulled down on my head and face and closed on my neck and I started to suffocate and I could not breath anymore and I was seeing white and thinking I was going to die and then he released the hold and I could breath but I was faint and weak (lantang lanta) and he patted me in the back and several men carried me to my cell;

     

    26.  Several hours later and when it was light, a person entered and although I was still very weak and lying down he started to interrogate me again and I said that I was tortured and I knew my rights and he told me that it was not his responsibility if there were other men who would torture me but I forced myself to sit up to face him and he was asking me what was my position in the organization and I was not answering and he told me, “akala mo ba may magagawa ang Canadian Government sa iyo?” and he called me, “Maita” and I told him that I was not Maita;

     

    27.  This was May 21, 2009 and the interrogation continued non-stop with one interrogator replaced by another after every hour and I was not given lunch although, there was a brief respite from the questions during lunch but it continued after lunch with that man who kept on his way of threatening me by saying, “Huh…huh…huh.” and this interrogation continued to the night and I remembered one interrogator who introduced himself as Dex and he talked about religion and asked me to return to the fold (“bagong buhay”) telling me that they were “kasangkapan ng Diyos para mag-bagong buhay ang mga rebelde” and I told him that I do not believe him and told him that the God I knew did not condone torture and violence and I was tortured and he gave me 24 hours to decide whether I would return to the fold;

     

    28.  After Dex, the religious interrogator, the next interrogator had a Visayan accent and talked about the evils of communism to me and kept on banging the glass on the table and after an hour of lecture, he told me, “maghintay ka na lang mamaya,” and I expected then for the worst to happen and I anticipated that I would be tortured physically again and I called for Rose with the plan that I would talk to her to delay the expected torture they would do to me and I talked to her long into the night and thinking that the only way to mitigate the torture was to play that I was returning to the fold, I told Rose that I would like to return to the fold but despite that after my talk with Rose another interrogator came in and it was this time I heard that there were other units who would like to borrow me and there was no dinner given to me;

     

    29.  I had again a light sleep and on May 22, 2009, at the break of day, the interrogation started and intensified and I was brought to another building to what I perceived to be opposite of the female barracks with the jail cell as the fulcrum and I was given some breakfast and a late lunch at the building, I felt I was in a room used as an office and I was facing a panel of interrogators and I sensed that Dex was one of them and that beside me was Rose and another man and aside from the questions and the lecture on anti-communism and religion, they were asking me to sign a document but which I refused but I asked for Dex and went along with the Religion talk;

     

    30.  Because of my refusal to sign, I was brought into another room (I heard the voice of Juanito Carabeo when I entered the room) where a bright and hot light was shone on my face and the interrogator started to ask me questions and while asking questions he gripped and pressed my right shoulder hard and it was very painful because there was a dislocation and he knew I had that dislocation and when he was telling me that I was hardheaded he pounded his pointer finger on  my forehead and it hurt and then suddenly, he changed his tone and tune and told me he believed that I wanted to return to the fold and we started talking about literature and asked me about magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and he even gave me a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel, Love in Times of Cholera, and the Bible of the King James Version and I told him that I was in the area because I was looking for and gathering materials for my novels and that was why I joined the Bayan – USA and applied for an exposure program with Bayan – Central Luzon and Bayan - Tarlac volunteered for that initial survey at La Paz, and that I believed in God and I have to insist on that to go along with the Religious talk of Dex and he told me that they were interested in knowing how I got  involved;

     

    31.  I was made to drink an orange soda and after a while I started to become groggy and another interrogator came to replace the literary interrogator but Dex was coming in and out of the interrogation and I started to talk about my family, my parents and my address in the United States and I was told that my name was in the Order of Battle and that I told them that I wanted to cooperate in order to return to the fold and later, Dex was again the interrogator and talked to me about religion and it was there that I felt so sleepy and before I could fall asleep I was transferred to the female barracks and was made to sleep in the floor but I was now given a mattress, a blanket and a pillow and I slept heavily and woke up when the light was already bright;

     

    32.  This was May 23, 2009 and I got angry with myself for losing control of the time and by sleeping long and deep and the interrogation continued trying to pry from me information of people I visited when I was with Bayan Central Luzon and Bayan Tarlac but I refused saying that I don’t want to put other people in harm’s way and an interrogator who introduced himself to me as RC took over and he talked about religion like Dex and said that they were merely tools of God for making rebels return to the fold and I told him that my God do not torture people and he told me that those who tortured me came from the SOG, the special operations group, and they were responsible for the “pagdukot” and for what happened to me and he asked me, “let us start from zero, ha?...ha? …ha?” and I realized he was the one who was torturing me and he continued to ask me how I came to get involve with Bayan – USA and I told him about my interest in the third world and poverty therein and I started to search the internet and I came to the site of Bayan – USA and that got me started.  Sometime in the afternoon, they forcibly took a photo of me and looked for the mole on the left side of my face;

     

    33.  On this day, the interrogators were Dex and RC and they rotated between themselves interrogating me and I was playing along the religion line and finally I was told that their boss would be making the final evaluation of whether I was really returning to the fold and  I slept lightly on the night of the 23rd and in the morning of the 24th, I was interrogated by the a person whom they called Boss and addressed as “Sir” and the interrogation lasted for the day and I answered their questions about me but not about other people and the Boss told me that if I did not cooperate I would be borrowed by other units whose personnel wouldn’t be as nice as Dex and RC and this interrogation and conversations continued until the night; the Boss also said to me that if I saw him, I’d be surprised and that he knew a lot about me and who I was;

     

    34.  At night, RC approached me and told me that I would be going home the next day but I did not believe him and I slept lightly on the night of the 24th; at early dawn of the 25th, I was awakened by Rose who told me to bath and I was given a sim card for use in contacting them and I was given a slip of paper where a new email address RC created for me was written with the password __________and I was given a bag where biscuits were placed and the books that were given were also placed and also the handcuffs used on me and Rose gave me her blouse and shoes for me to use in going home and RC told me that, “hindi tayo magkaaway, gusto ko magkaibigan tayo, ha” and he told me to beware of Karapatan because it will tell you to go against us and will talk with your family and that I should not let Karapatan talk with their family, otherwise, something will happen and that they would like to talk with my uncle and after which, I boarded a different vehicle than that of the van that brought me there as it was more spacious and I was seated on the center with Rose on my left and RC on my right with the driver and a passenger on the passenger side of the front seat and I sensed that there were about more than two people at the back and that I could hear communications with another car which was in convoy with us ordering not to drop me in front of our house in Quezon City as there was an activity but the car I was riding passed by and stopped in front of our house and I was asked to lift my blindfold to take a look at the house and to affirm whether it was my house and I confirmed and my blindfold was placed back and the car turned around and finally I was dropped at the corner nearest the house and I was told to face where I was dropped and to count up to one hundred before walking to my house and RC told me that they will be monitoring all my actions and something bad will happen to me if I do not cooperate that made me more afraid and I did what they told me after they took off my blindfold and I was dropped on the sidewalk and I was facing a wall and I did not move around even just to turn my head as I was very afraid that they would get me again and I did not move even after a count of a hundred until my phone rang and it was RC who instructed me that I could already walk which I did and arrived home to my uncle’s warm and relieved welcome;

     

    35.  But my travails did not end there, RC continued to talk to me through the phone where the Sim card he gave was inserted and I was so afraid to go out believing that they were just around monitoring me that I just stayed inside the room not even going out of that room and because of that my cousin bore upon me to throw the bag and the sim card to the trash which I did but the books, the clothes of Rose, the handcuffs, the slip of paper containing the email address RC created for me and the password I retained thinking of filing a case against them;

     

    36.  I was traumatized and the fear is still in me and I execute this affidavit to state the truth of the foregoing facts and for purposes of filing a Petition for a Writ of Amparo and Habeas Data to protect me and my family and my uncle and his family now and in the future and for possible other legal cases.

     

    IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I hereunto affix my signature this 2th day of May 2009 at Quezon City, Philippines.

     

                                                                            MELISSA C. ROXAS

     

    SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN TO BEFORE me this 29th day of May 2009 at Quezon City, Philippines by affiant who showed to me her U.S. Passport no. 443307364, with expiry date on June 1, 2018 and issued at the US Embassy Manila.

     

    Download Affidavit in Word format

     

               
    Fact and Fiction
               

     

    Statement and claim of the Philippine Government:

     

    "There are no reports of this case in the local government office or with local police authorities of the Municipality of La Paz, Tarlac, where the abduction allegedly took place, filed by anyone, let alone Bayan and Karapatan. This is surprising considering that both organizations would know that the standard operating procedure is for such cases to be immediately filed by the interested party/ies."

     

     

    ◄ The factr is that there was a police report on the abduction dated May 20, a day after the abduction, duly signed by the La Paz Chief of Police Ronald R. Fernandez addressed to the Tarlac Provincial Police Director.

     

    There was also a memorandum fromf the police senior superintentend addressed to Karapatan on May 26, 2009

     

    Karapatan had issued a advisory on the abduction

     

    Download police report

    Download police memo to Karapatan

    Download Karapatan advisory on the case

     

    Bayan had its report on its website: www.bayan.ph

     

    The above documents prove the lie to the claim of the Philippine government that "there are no reports of the case in the local government office or with local police authorities of the Municipality of La Paz, Tarlac" and that Bayan or Karapatan did not file advisories..

     

               
    Bayan reports on the abduction and torture of Fil=Am Roxas, Carabeo and Handoc
               

     

    Philippine government trying to cover-up Fil-am abduction
    May 28, 2009

    The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan condemned in the strongest terms the statement coming from the Philippine government and its Presidential Human Rights Commission on the circumstances of the abduction and eventually surfacing of Filipino-American activist Melissa Roxas and her companions Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc.

    “The PHRC has shown utter incompetence once more when it says that there are no police reports regarding the abduction of the three. This is a lie,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes , Jr.

    The group said that as of May 20, 2009, the La Paz police through its police chief, Police Chief Inspector Ronald R. Fernandez signed and filed a special report addressed to Tarlac Provincial Director Police S/Supt Rudy Lacadin based in Camp Makabulos. The initial police investigation was spurned by the May 19 report of the homeowner where Roxas and company were abducted and by the report of the baranggay captain of the area where the three were taken.

    “We received a copy of Police C/Insp. Fernandez’ report last May 24, from a Karapatan Central Luzon official who personally talked to the La Paz police and was given the report,” Reyes said.

    Tarlac provincial director S/Supt. Lacadin, eventually confirmed the incident to the Police Anti-Crime and Emergency Response headed by Police S/Supt. Leonardo Arias Espina. Further proof is that the PACER has contacted Karapatan to formally inquire about the abduction.

    Bayan said that it was the La Paz police report, based on their initial investigation, which revealed that Roxas and company were forcibly taken by at least eight armed men, wearing bonnets and riding a van last May 19 in Sitio Bagong Sikat, Bgy. Kapanikian, La Paz, Tarlac.

    “It is ridiculous that the PHRC claims that no such report of an abduction was ever filed. It’s obvious that the PHRC did not conduct its own investigation. It seems that it merely relied on word of non-governmental organizations like FIND and AFAD. That the PHRC did not conduct its own probe shows the very little regard it has for the plight of the abducted activists,” Reyes said.

    “What is even more outrageous is that despite not conducting its own thorough investigation, despite existing police reports, the PHRC is now forwarding the theory that the three abducted activists were held by the New People’s Army. What is the PHRC’s basis for saying this? What shred of evidence to they have?” the Bayan leader asked.

    Bayan believes that as in previous cases of disappearances, the Arroyo government is quick to absolve the military from any involvement and shifts the blame to other entities like the NPA. This theory lacks any credibility even with the international community, the group said.

    “There are credible indications that the three were abducted by elements of the military and were taken possibly to a military camp before their eventual release. There is an ongoing investigation as to the circumstances of the abduction. Right now, the organizations and the families of the victims are focused on looking after the recovery and well-being of the three,” Reyes said.

    “The PHRC, by prejudging the incident as a mere propaganda tool by Bayan and Karapatan, shows that it has really no intention of uncovering the truth behind the abduction of Roxas and company. The Philippine government is more interested in saving face. From their statements, it is clear that the Arroyo government is gearing for another cover up, first by trying to downplay the incident and next, by blaming it on the NPA,” he added.

    Bayan believes that in time, the truth will come out. “And when it does, no amount of official cover up can suppress it,” Reyes said. ###

    *Philippine Embassy*

    *News Release*

    *27 May 2009*

    * *
    *UPDATE ON THE RECENT ALLEGED ABDUCTION OF MELISSA ROXAS, JUANITO CARABEO, AND EDWARD HANDOC AS REPORTED BY KARAPATAN AND BAYAN*

    27 May 2009. The Philippine Government is committed to the protection and
    promotion of human rights and takes very seriously any report or allegation
    of abuse of human rights. With regard to reports on the abduction of
    Filipino American activist Melissa Roxas and her two companions, Juanito
    Carabeo and Edward Handoc, police authorities are currently investigating
    this. We encourage all those who may have information to cooperate with the
    police.

    As allegations of abuse of human rights has been made, the Presidential
    Human Rights Committee (PHRC) has looked into this and its Secretariat
    released today the following update:

    *“As a policy, we consider with serious doubts all allegations of human
    rights violations from groups like Karapatan, Bayan and their allied
    organizations, given their penchant for and track record in coming up with
    unfounded allegations, and for bringing such cases before the media and
    international organizations with nary an intent to officially refer such
    cases to government for proper action. *

    *We recall the 836 alleged cases of unsolved killings (aka extra-judicial
    killings) Karapatan released to media in 2006 but which was eventually
    debunked to be an exaggeration, and the recent 1,016 alleged cases of
    torture it raised before the UN Committee Against Torture and which to this
    date remain unsubstantiated.*

    *Hence, on this recent allegation of abduction and enforced disappearances,
    the PHRC Secretariat immediately referred the matter to the Coalition
    Against Involuntary Disappearances (CAID), a more credible alliance of NGOs
    involved in cases of disappeared persons, to verify if indeed such a case
    did exist. *

    * Initial information from the Families of Involuntary Disappearances (FIND)
    and the Asian Federation Against Disappearances (AFAD), both active
    member-organizations of the CAID, based on their on-going investigations,
    revealed the following:*

    *• There are no reports of this case in the local government office or with
    local police authorities of the Municipality of La Paz, Tarlac, where the
    abduction allegedly took place, filed by anyone, let alone Bayan and
    Karapatan. This is surprising considering that both organizations would
    know that the standard operating procedure is for such cases to be
    immediately filed by the interested party/ies.*

    *• Roxas has already surfaced, while Carabeo and Handoc are allegedly still
    missing. On the other hand, Roxas, and for that matter Bayan and Karapatan,
    have yet to come out with a statement as to the actual circumstances of the
    alleged abduction.*

    *• There is strong possibility that Roxas and company were on an
    “immersion” in NPA-infested areas. And that the NPAs could have hidden them
    for safety purposes, perhaps after receiving reports of a possible encounter
    or attack by government forces. At some point, organizations like Bayan and
    Karapatan wanted to take advantage of the situation by letting loose a press
    statement that an abduction took place, in anticipation of the possibility
    that Roxas and company would be killed in the crossfire. Fortunately, no
    such incident occurred. *

    * Another scenario being contemplated on is that Roxas was released by the
    NPAs precisely because her “immersion” was over, and that her two
    companions, being actually active members of the movement, have opted to
    stay on with their colleagues.*

    *• Despite due diligence by FIND and AFAD, there are no leads that direct
    to an incident of abduction.*

    *Simply put, there is high probability that the alleged abduction of these
    persons has been fabricated.*

    *Karapatan and Bayan have been very silent lately. There is apprehension,
    even among other NGOs and CSOs, that both are busy fabricating another story
    to explain the sudden surfacing of Roxas and the continued “disappearance”
    of the other two, all at the expense of the Philippine government.*

    *As of this writing, law enforcement authorities contacted by the PHRC
    Secretariat have denied ever receiving reports or having been informed of
    any abduction. *

    *The PHRC Secretariat shall be posting developments on this case.” *END.
     

     

    Carabeo surfaced, no word yet on Handoc

    Initial reports from relatives and Karapatan Central Luzon confirm that Juanito Carabeo has surfaced and is now with his family. We're still checking on status of John Edward Handoc.

    No additional details are available.

    Carabeo, Handoc and Fil-Am activist Melissa Roxas were abducted by at least 8 armed men last May 19 in La Paz, Tarlac province. Roxas surfaced yesterday, six days after the abduction.
     

    --------------------------------------

     

    Search continues for companions of abducted Fil-Am activist
    News Release
    May 26, 2009

    While happy that Filipino-American activist Melissa Roxas was surfaced yesterday morning, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said that the search for her companions Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc continues.

    “It is regrettable that military and the police are either clueless or in a state of denial over the abductions of Roxas, Carabeo and Handoc. We are demanding the immediate surfacing of Carabeo and Handoc and an end to the pattern of enforced disappearances happening under the Arroyo regime. We call on Gloria Macapagal Arroyo herself to address the issue of the abduction of the three activists,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

    “The military in Tarlac claims that no such abduction took place. Are they not aware of a formal report filed by the La Paz police? We are again seeing the start of a wave of denial from the military. It is very unlikely that the military does not know the incident. They may be trying to cover up something,” Reyes said.

    The three were abducted last May 19 in La Paz, Tarlac by at least eight armed men wearing bonnets and on board two motorcycles and a Besta van. The account came from the report of the La Paz police after receiving a complaint from witnesses in the abduction.

    Roxas was surfaced after six days of being disappeared. The circumstances regarding her release are still unknown.

    “We are holding the Arroyo government responsible for the abduction or Roxas and the continued disappearnce of Carabeo and Handoc. The manner of abduction has all the trademarks of a mliitary operation,” Reyes said.
    Bayan’s chapter in the US has undertaken a campaign to release Roxas, Carabeo and Handoc.

    “The abductors of Carabeo and Handoc must respect their rights. No harm must come to them. Too many have been abucted under this regime, some tortured, others never seen again. And since no one has been punished, there is now impunity,” Reyes said.

    “What is needed now is to exert more pressure on the Arroyo regime to do everythin to surface the two abducted activists. We also hope that the United States government would stop supporting the Arroyo regime now that an American citizen has been a victim of abduction by suspected state security forces,” he added. ###

     

    ------------------------------------

     

    MELISSA ROXAS' SURFACING A VICTORY OF THE PEOPLE'S STRUGGLE, BUT THE SEARCH CONTINUES FOR CARABEO & HANDOC-- BAYAN USA
    News Statement
    May 24, 2009

    Reference: Rhonda Ramiro, Secretary-General, BAYAN USA, email: secgen@bayanusa.org



    The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, an alliance of 14 Filipino social justice organizations across the United States, is elated to confirm that Filipina-American activist Melissa Roxas, 32, surfaced hours ago in Manila as of Sunday, May 24th. BAYAN USA confirmed this report with the human rights group Karapatan. A detailed account about the circumstances of her surfacing is still forthcoming.

    "We are happy to hear about Melissa's surfacing, but we are still concerned about the whereabouts of her two companions, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc, who were abducted along with Melissa on May 19th and are still missing to this day," states BAYAN USA Chair Bernadette Ellorin. "We fully intend to pursue the demand for the surfacing of Carabeo and Handoc, as well as justice for Melissa. This abduction should never have taken place."

    Roxas, Carabeo, and Handoc, all members of a medical mission team in La Paz, Tarlac, were reportedly abducted at gunpoint by at least eight masked men in the middle of the night last week. Upon learning of Roxas, Carabeo, and Handoc's enforced disappearance, BAYAN USA, along with BAYAN Philippines and Karapatan, exerted strong efforts calling for their immediate surfacing, including releasing an online petition addressed to US elected officials that gathered hundreds of signatures in a matter of hours.

    "Because more than five days had passed since their abduction, we believe Melissa's surfacing is a direct result of rapid community response and international pressure exerted from the Philippines and the United States first and foremost," Ellorin continued. BAYAN USA in Southern California has also been working closely with Roxas' family in Los Angeles in their campaign efforts to surface Roxas and her companions in the Philippines.

    Roxas, a founding member of the cultural organization Habi-Arts in Los Angeles and founding Southern California Representative for BAYAN USA, went to the Philippines in 2007 to pursue human rights advocacy full-time. Her move was set amidst an acute human rights crisis in the Philippines that includes reports of rampant extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, illegal arrest, torture, and summary executions. In 2005, Roxas participated in an international fact-finding mission investigating human rights violations throughout the Philippines under the Arroyo administration.

    On Wednesday, May 27th, BAYAN USA member organizations across the United States will be launching actions denouncing the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), a military pact that allows for the basing of US military troops in over 20 ports throughout the Philippines. Included in these actions will be the call for justice for Melissa Roxas and for the immediate surfacing of Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc. BAYAN USA firmly believes the continuing, unabated human rights violations committed by the Philippine military and death squads are generously funded by US military aid to the Arroyo government. BAYAN USA also ultimately holds the Arroyo government accountable for the pattern of killings and abductions against civilians critical of the regime since 2001.

    "As we continue to campaign for justice for Melissa, Juanito, and John Edward, we are consciously raising awareness of the role of US tax dollars in funding these abductions and other human rights violations. There are hundreds more victims of politically-motivated abductions in the Philippines that are still missing to this day," Ellorin ended. ###

     

    ----------------------------------

     

    Bayan calls on Arroyo government to surface Fil-Am activist Melissa Roxas and companions
    News Release
    May 24, 2009

    The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan is calling on the Arroyo government, the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to immediately surface Melissa Roxas, an American citizen of Filipino descent, and a member of BAYAN-USA and the cultural group Habi Arts based in Los Angeles, California.

    Roxas was abducted last May 19 at around 1:30 pm in Sitio Bagong Sikat, Bgy. Kapanikian, La Paz, Tarlac. She was with two other volunteers, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc.

    Based on reports filed by the human rights group Karapatan and the La Paz police, Roxas and her companions were taken by at least 8 fully-armed, bonnet-clad men on board two motorcycles and a Besta van without any plate numbers.

    Since the abduction, there has been no word on the whereabouts and condition of Roxas and her companions.

    Roxas is the first case of a Fil-Am activist to be abducted by suspected state security forces.

    “It is indeed urgent that Melissa and her companions be surfaced. No harm must come to them. Their rights must be respected. We are outraged that these abductions continue despite repeated condemnation here and abroad,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

    Bayan said that the human rights group Karapatan will be spearheading the search for Roxas. “The burden of surfacing Melissa, as in similar cases of abductions, now lies with the Arroyo administration. We also call on the international community to exert pressure on the Arroyo government for it to act swiftly to surface Melissa,” Reyes added. ###

     

               
    =          
    ==          
         

    Statements of KARAPATAN, Bayan-USA, New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines,

    KMU, Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights and others

               

     

    Abduction of Fil-Am Activist Reflects Political Repression in the Philippines
    PUBLISHED ON May 28, 2009 AT 2:30 PM, Bulatlat.com

    By the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines

    The abduction, captivity, and surfacing of Filipina-American activist Melissa Roxas serves as a due wakeup call to many Filipinos in the United States that no critic of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime, even US citizens, is immune to political repression enacted as a means to silence dissent in the Philippines. Melissa Roxas, a human rights advocate in the Philippines, was serving as part of a volunteer medical mission in Tarlac when she was abducted at gunpoint by eight masked men in the afternoon of May 19th. Within 48 hours from the time news of her abduction reached her friends in the United States on May 24th, an international barrage of statements, press releases, television news coverage, and even an online petition addressed to US President Barack Obama was launched, ending with news of Melissa’s surfacing and reunion with her family in Manila.

    As of late, we have no details as to Melissa’s physical condition, if her captors harmed her in any way. It is certain though that Melissa’s safety remains at risk as she is most-likely being heavily monitored by her abductors. It also remains up in the air whether or not Melissa will stay in the Philippines to continue her human rights work or will return to Los Angeles, her hometown. Either way the international campaign to seek justice will not end just because she has surfaced. Two of Melissa’s companions on the medical mission, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc, were also abducted with Melissa. While Carabeo and Handoc have both just recently surfaced, their physical conditions remain unknown, we must continue to seek justice for Melissa, Juanito, and John Edward by demanding for an official investigation of the abduction and prosecution of the abductors.

    It is safe to presume that Melissa’s US citizenship and the noise made across the Pacific by US citizens– particularly her colleagues in BAYAN USA, an alliance of Filipino social justice organizations across the United States– set Melissa apart from Carabeo and Handoc in their captors’ eyes. But US citizen or not, abduction is abduction, torture is torture, and a human life is a human life. The Roxas/Carabeo/Handoc kidnapping must be seen within the overall context of intensifying political repression in the Philippines. There are hundreds more Melissas in the Philippines today who have yet to surface. Their names include Jonas Burgos, Sherlyn Cadapan, Karen Empeno, James Balao and many many more. All were known critics of the policies of the Arroyo administration.

    What should alarm Filipinos in the US even more than Melissa’s case is the fact that the Arroyo administration, one that has been internationally chided time and time again for perpetrating rampant human rights violations through the Philippine military, continues to receive a generous military aid package from the US government. In 2007, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings Philip Alston released a scathing report on the Philippines pointing out the Philippine military’s culpability as the main perpetrators of human rights violations. That same year, testimonies by a Philippine church delegation to the US Senate identified a correlation between the rise in human rights violations in the Philippines to an increase in US military aid.

    This implies that the death squads and elements of the Philippine military perpetrating these politically-motivated killings and abductions are enabled to do so because of the hard-earned tax dollars from people like us here in the US.

    If the power of our voices raised for Melissa and Juanito can contribute to their victorious surfacing, let us do the same for John Edward Handoc, and all the hundreds more victims of enforced disappearances in the Philippines today. Let us also raise our concerned voices to the Obama administration for continuing to monetarily support the Arroyo government in the Philippines. Let us register our call to withdraw all forms of US economic aid to the Philippines until such time human rights for the Filipino people are recognized, respected, and upheld.

    For the cause of peace, justice, and human rights,

    Lolan Sevilla, Dasaw Floyd, Gary Labao, Jamie Mapa, Rico Foz, Ramon Mappala, Berna Ellorin, Peter Arvin Jabido, Jonna Baldres

    NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
    www.nychrp.org

     

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     

    News Release
    25 May 2009
    KMU alarmed over first Fil-am victim of Arroyo’s abductions
    demands immediate release of Fil-Am activist, companions

    KMU demands for the immediate release of Melissa Roxas, an American citizen of Filipino descent, member of BAYAN-USA and the cultural group Habi Arts based in California, and her companions who were abducted by armed, bonet-clad men in La Paz Tarlac on May 19.

    According reports by Karapatan and the La Paz police, Roxas and her companions were were taken by at least eight fully-armed, bonnet-clad men on board two motorcycles and a Besta van without any plate numbers. Since the abduction, there has been no word on the whereabouts and condition of Roxas and her companions, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc.

    Such abduction style is very consistent with the past abductions carried out by the Arroyo government and its military with our fellow Filipino activists.

    KMU vows to exert utmost pressure to ensure the surfacing and safety of Roxas, Carabeo and Handoc, and seeks for the support of fellow Filipinos and the international community.
     

    ------------------------------------------------------------

     

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    May 24, 2009

    Reference: Kuusela Hilo, BAYAN-USA Vice Chair, 818-395-9207, vicechair@bayanusa.org
    Rhonda Ramiro, BAYAN-USA Secretary General, 415-377-2599, secgen@bayanusa.org

    SURFACE FILIPINO-AMERICAN ACTIVIST MELISSA ROXAS NOW

    BAYAN-USA, an alliance of 14 Filipino American organizations and chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan Philippines), is calling on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the Department of National Defense, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to immediately surface Melissa Roxas, an American citizen of Filipino descent who was abducted in the Philippines on May 19. BAYAN-USA also urgently calls on our representatives in the U.S. Congress to act quickly to ensure the safe return of Roxas.

    Roxas is a well-known Filipino American activist, who served as the first Regional Coordinator of BAYAN-USA in Los Angeles and co-founded the cultural organization Habi Arts. Roxas is an active human rights advocate and was instrumental in organizing a BAYAN-USA contingent that participated in the International Solidarity Mission in 2005, an international fact finding mission that called attention to the escalating human rights violations in the Philippines. Roxas went to the Philippines in 2007 to pursue human rights work, where she became a full time volunteer health worker. She was abducted on May 19, 2009 at approximately 1:30 PM in Sitio Bagong Sikat, Barangay kapanikian, La Paz, Tarlac. She was with two other volunteers, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc.

    Based on reports filed by the human rights group KARAPATAN and the La Paz police, Roxas and her companions were taken by at least 8 armed, hooded men riding two motorcycles and a Besta van without any license plate numbers. There has been no word on the whereabouts and condition of Roxas and her companions since the abduction. The circumstances of Roxas’ abduction typify the abductions and enforced disappearances of over 200 innocent civilians, allegedly last seen in the hands of suspected state security forces.

    "We are deeply concerned about the abduction of Melissa Roxas, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc. We call for Melissa and her companions to be immediately surfaced unharmed," said BAYAN-USA Secretary General Rhonda Ramiro. "We condemn the ongoing abductions and human rights violations that have been rampant under the Arroyo administration and victimized thousands of innocent people."

    The search for Roxas and her companions will be spearheaded by the human rights organization KARAPATAN, while BAYAN-USA, its member organizations, and allies will undertake an international campaign to exert pressure on the Arroyo government to surface Roxas. "We appeal to our elected officials, members of the Filipino American community, and all people in the U.S. who believe in human rights to take action to surface Melissa and her companions. Since we were founded in 2005, BAYAN-USA has campaigned ceaselessly for an end to the human rights violations in the Philippines, and we will not stop until we obtain justice for Melissa and all victims of human rights violations under Arroyo."
    # # #

    -------------------------------------

    For Immediate Release
    May 28, 2009


    Reference: Rhonda Ramiro, Secretary-General, BAYAN USA, email: secgen@bayanusa.org

    STOP THE ARROYO GOV'T'S COVER-UP OF THE ABDUCTION OF ROXAS, CARABEO, & HANDOC! --BAYAN USA


    All efforts to cover up the truth must be stopped and exposed, starting with the removal of the Philippine Embassy's latest post on its website.

    The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, denounced recent claims by the Arroyo government's Presidential Human Rights Commission (PHRC) that the triple abduction of Melissa Roxas, Juanito Carabeo, and John Edward Handoc was a mere fabrication by BAYAN Philippines and human rights group Karapatan, as well that the disappearance of the three involved immersion with the New People's Army (NPA). The statement from the PHRC was posted yesterday on the website of the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC.

    That same day, BAYAN USA and allies were launching indignation actions across the United States for the abduction of Roxas, one of the alliance's founding members from Los Angeles, as well as her companions Carabeo and Handoc, who have all since surfaced.

    "The Arroyo government is working double-time to cover up its tracks in the case of Melissa Roxas, Juanito Carabeo, and John Edward Handoc by spewing outright lies. Its claims in its latest statement on the case are not only false, but reprehensible and condemnable in its aim to set the real perpetrators of this heinous crime free and save face. What we are witnessing is the Philippine government's obstruction of justice through its culture of impunity," states BAYAN USA Chair Bernadette Ellorin.

    Inaccuracies and Gross Distortion of Facts

    Ellorin pointed out several factual errors to the PHRC's statement released just yesterday. Such outstanding errors are as follows:

    PHRC:

    "There are no reports of this case in the local government office or with local police authorities of the Municipality of La Paz, Tarlac, where the abduction allegedly took place, filed by anyone, let alone Bayan and Karapatan."

    BAYAN USA:

    At least two police reports were filed on the triple abduction. An initial police report was filed on May 20th, 2009 signed and filed by La Paz Police Chief Inspector Ronald R. Fernandez. The report, detailing the account of witnesses of the May 19th abduction by armed men, was addressed to Tarlac Provincial Director Supt. Rudy Lacadin based in Camp Malabulos. On May 26th, after Roxas surfacing, Police Senior Supt. Chief of the Police Anti-Crime and Emergency Response (PACER) Leonardo Arias Espina issued a letter request to human rights group Karapatan, acknowledging the previous initial La Paz, Tarlac police report and inviting Roxas in for questioning.

    PHRC:

    "There is strong possibility that Roxas and company were on an “immersion” in NPA-infested areas. And that the NPAs could have hidden them for safety purposes, perhaps after receiving reports of a possible encounter or attack by government forces. At some point, organizations like Bayan and Karapatan wanted to take advantage of the situation by letting loose a press statement that an abduction took place, in anticipation of the possibility that Roxas and company would be killed in the crossfire."

    BAYAN USA:

    Sufficient documentary evidence compiled by Karapatan-- an internationally-recognized and credible Philippine human rights monitoring group-- into a fact sheet on the case reports that Roxas, Carabeo, and Handoc were part of a medical mission team in La Paz, Tarlac, not an an immersion with the NPA. Quick claims of NPA-involvement are a tactic of the Arroyo government's counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya, which aims to annihilate the armed NPA through the violent targeting of civilian groups engaged in social justice work and community service. By baselessly branding groups such as BAYAN and Karapatan as "communist fronts" and shifting the blame of confirmed human rights violations to the NPA, the Arroyo government absolves itself from having to take the appropriate legal and judicial measures in the over 1,000 cases of extrajudicial killings and over 200 cases of enforced disappearances of unarmed leftist activists.

    PHRC:

    "We recall the 836 alleged cases of unsolved killings (aka extra-judicial killings) Karapatan released to media in 2006 but which was eventually debunked to be an exaggeration, and the recent 1,016 alleged cases of torture it raised before the UN Committee Against Torture and which to this date remain unsubstantiated."

    BAYAN USA:

    As officially reported by United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston in his 2007 country report, the pattern of rampant extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances remains due to a culture of impunity, which includes non-efforts by the Philippine authorities to conduct investigations and prosecute the perpetrators of human rights violations, despite confirmation and documentation of such cases. Just recently in his 2009 followup report, Alston points out the continuing failure of the Arroyo government to provide a good faith effort to address the killings committed by the Philippine military, and that the culture of impunity remains, leaving thousands of cases of confirmed killings and abductions unresolved.

    The Truth Will Come Out

    According the PHRC, no Philippine law authority has ever received an official report about the abduction. BAYAN USA believes the fact that the official reports filed with signatures from Philippine law authorities exposes to the highest degree that outrageous propaganda machinery of the Arroyo administration. These reports must be popularized, as well as the case fact sheet generated by Karapatan.

    BAYAN USA calls on the Philippine Embassy in DC to remove the PHRC statement from its website immediately. It also encourages action by the international community to counter efforts by the Arroyo government to cover-up the triple abduction starting with an email/fax barrage of copies of the official police reports and Karapatan fact sheet on the case, to the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC and the PHRC. The Philippine Embassy's website was amongst the first to publish the statement from the PHRC.

    BAYAN USA remains confident that the truth will eventually surface on what happened to Roxas, Carabeo, and Handoc. "Once Melissa Roxas speaks out, no amount of lies concocted by the Arroyo administration's propaganda machine will be able to save it from the consequences," Ellorin ended.

    ###

     

    2/F Erythrina Bldg. No. 1 Maaralin corner Matatag Streets, Brgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City 1100 Telefax 4354146 Email karapatan.pid@gmail.com website www.karapatan.org

    Press Release – May 30, 2009

    Abduction of Fil-Am activist, 2 others is a human rights violation that cannot be erased by discrediting Karapatan and other human rights defenders

    The human rights alliance Karapatan today issued a statement condemning the malicious statements made by the Philippine Human Rights Committee on Wednesday.

    Karapatan Secretary General Marie Hilao-Enriquez said bad-mouthing Karapatan will not erase the fact that there was a reported incident of an abduction of a Fil-Am activist and two other community health workers.

    The PHRC alleged that Karapatan and Bayan had made up the abduction of three community health workers Melissa Roxas, Juanito Carabeo and Edward Handoc. (see full statement of PHRC attached below)

    The PHRC even went to the extent of saying, “There are no reports of this case in the local government office or with local police authorities of the Municipality of La Paz, Tarlac, where the abduction allegedly took place, filed by anyone…”

    Karapatan Secretary General Marie Hilao-Enriquez said, “Check your facts or eat your words! Their statements only show that they are so incompetent, they are wasting the people’s money!”

    A simple check with the PNP in Camp Crame would have informed the PHRC that a police report dated May 20, 2009 reports of an abduction incident on May 19, 2009 at Sitio Bagong Sikat, Bgy. Kapanikian, La Paz, Tarlac involving three persons with one female victim who shouted her name as “Elisa Roxas,” as heard by neighbors. Karapatan is in possession of this report signed by La Paz Police Chief Inspector Ronald R. Fernandez.

    Similarly, the Police Anti-Crime and Emergency Response or PACER in its letter to Karapatan dated May 26, acknowledged that Tarlac Provincial Police Office Director Rudy Lacadin has reported the incident to PACER on May 25, 2009.

    Hilao-Enriquez said, “Now, the malicious, virulent PHRC statement quoted and circulated by the Philippine embassy in the US only shows the veracity of Prof. Philip Alston’s report that the vilification of civil society groups in the country continues.” She continued, “This time it is done regrettably by a supposed human rights body created under the office of the President. This puts us in a very dangerous situation as we can be open targets from the state security forces just like what happened to many victims of extrajudicial killings, abductions and frustrated killings.”

    Karapatan said that it is even reprehensible that the PHRC, instead of diligently investigating the incident, is using the case to sow divisions among civil society organizations and pitting them against each other by quoting supposed “diligent” investigation conducted by what they term as “more credible” groups. In the process, the PHRC has exposed its ineptness. For in the first place, why do they have to go to civil society organizations first rather than the police and other government investigative bodies? Do we take it now to mean that the PHRC considers civil society organizations as more reliable than government investigative bodies? Just wondering.

    Hilao-Enriquez said, “At any rate, we would like to tell the PHRC that our mandate is to document cases reported to us and assist victims to secure justice and prevent further violations. We do NOT COMPETE with government agencies, NGOs and CSOs working on human rights violations cases.”

    Further, Karapatan hopes that the PHRC disabuse their minds that an organization can be discredited by circulating baseless, malicious statements and vilification; nor believe that the PHRC is the one to grant credibility to an organization. “We are proud to say that our credibility is founded on our work, the victims’ trust in us and the recognition of the international community,” said Hilao-Enriquez.

    In parting, Ms. Hilao-Enriquez tells the PHRC, “Do your jobs first; stop wasting people’s money and stop being rumor mongers. Kumita na yan sa panahon ng martial law!”###


    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    From: Press Office <rppress@verizon.net>
    Date: May 27, 2009 1:31 PM
    Subject: UPDATE ON THE RECENT ALLEGED ABDUCTION OF MELISSA ROXAS, JUANITO
    CARABEO, AND EDWARD HANDOC AS REPORTED BY KARAPATAN AND BAYAN
    To: Press Office <rppress@verizon.net>

    *Philippine Embassy*

    *News Release*

    *27 May 2009*

    * *
    *UPDATE ON THE RECENT ALLEGED ABDUCTION OF MELISSA ROXAS, JUANITO CARABEO,
    AND EDWARD HANDOC AS REPORTED BY KARAPATAN AND BAYAN*



    27 May 2009. The Philippine Government is committed to the protection and
    promotion of human rights and takes very seriously any report or allegation
    of abuse of human rights. With regard to reports on the abduction of
    Filipino American activist Melissa Roxas and her two companions, Juanito
    Carabeo and Edward Handoc, police authorities are currently investigating
    this. We encourage all those who may have information to cooperate with the
    police.

    As allegations of abuse of human rights has been made, the Presidential
    Human Rights Committee (PHRC) has looked into this and its Secretariat
    released today the following update:

    *“As a policy, we consider with serious doubts all allegations of human
    rights violations from groups like Karapatan, Bayan and their allied
    organizations, given their penchant for and track record in coming up with
    unfounded allegations, and for bringing such cases before the media and
    international organizations with nary an intent to officially refer such
    cases to government for proper action. *

    *
    We recall the 836 alleged cases of unsolved killings (aka extra-judicial
    killings) Karapatan released to media in 2006 but which was eventually
    debunked to be an exaggeration, and the recent 1,016 alleged cases of
    torture it raised before the UN Committee Against Torture and which to this
    date remain unsubstantiated.*

    *
    Hence, on this recent allegation of abduction and enforced disappearances,
    the PHRC Secretariat immediately referred the matter to the Coalition
    Against Involuntary Disappearances (CAID), a more credible alliance of NGOs
    involved in cases of disappeared persons, to verify if indeed such a case
    did exist. *

    *
    Initial information from the Families of Involuntary Disappearances (FIND)
    and the Asian Federation Against Disappearances (AFAD), both active
    member-organizations of the CAID, based on their on-going investigations,
    revealed the following:*

    * *
    *• There are no reports of this case in the local government office or with
    local police authorities of the Municipality of La Paz, Tarlac, where the
    abduction allegedly took place, filed by anyone, let alone Bayan and
    Karapatan. This is surprising considering that both organizations would
    know that the standard operating procedure is for such cases to be
    immediately filed by the interested party/ies.*

    * *
    *• Roxas has already surfaced, while Carabeo and Handoc are allegedly still
    missing. On the other hand, Roxas, and for that matter Bayan and Karapatan,
    have yet to come out with a statement as to the actual circumstances of the
    alleged abduction.*

    * *
    *• There is strong possibility that Roxas and company were on an
    “immersion” in NPA-infested areas. And that the NPAs could have hidden them
    for safety purposes, perhaps after receiving reports of a possible encounter
    or attack by government forces. At some point, organizations like Bayan and
    Karapatan wanted to take advantage of the situation by letting loose a press
    statement that an abduction took place, in anticipation of the possibility
    that Roxas and company would be killed in the crossfire. Fortunately, no
    such incident occurred. *

    *
    • Another scenario being contemplated on is that Roxas was released by the
    NPAs precisely because her “immersion” was over, and that her two
    companions, being actually active members of the movement, have opted to
    stay on with their colleagues.*

    * *
    *• Despite due diligence by FIND and AFAD, there are no leads that direct
    to an incident of abduction.*

    * *

    *Simply put, there is high probability that the alleged abduction of these
    persons has been fabricated.*

    *
    Karapatan and Bayan have been very silent lately. There is apprehension,
    even among other NGOs and CSOs, that both are busy fabricating another story
    to explain the sudden surfacing of Roxas and the continued “disappearance”
    of the other two, all at the expense of the Philippine government.*

    * *

    *As of this writing, law enforcement authorities contacted by the PHRC
    Secretariat have denied ever receiving reports or having been informed of
    any abduction. *
    * *

    *The PHRC Secretariat shall be posting developments on this case.” *END.


    --------------------------
    Reference:
    Consul Gines Gallaga
    Press and Information Officer
    Email: ggallaga@cox.net
    Tel: 202-467-9432

    --
    KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign. It was established in 1995.

     

    ===============================================================

    PRESS RELEASE
    June 2, 2009
    Reference: Lorena Santos, Deputy Secretary General
    Mobile No. 09186615099

    Arroyo gov’t must answer for abduction of Fil-Am and two other community health workers

    As the world commemorates the International Week of the Disappeared, the families of victims of enforced disappearance called on the Arroyo government to punish the perpetrators of the abduction and torture of Melissa Roxas, Juanito Carabeo and Joseph Edward Jandoc. Jandoc is still missing to this day.

    “The Arroyo government must answer for the abduction and torture of Melissa and her companions by punishing security forces who have perpetrated this dastardly act,” said Lorena Santos, Deputy Secretary General of Desaparecidos.

    Santos said the Commander-In-Chief and the chain of command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines must ensure that soldiers who are respondents in the writ of amparo petition filed on behalf of Roxas would be brought to court.

    “We at Desaparecidos are relieved to know that Melissa and Juanito are alive and were surfaced. We continue to call on security forces to surface Jandoc and others who were disappeared,” Santos whose own father, Leo Velasco was abducted by government operatives two years ago, said.

    Santos said Desaparecidos members, among them mothers of the disappeared, stood vigil with Karapatan last week to monitor the case of Melissa Roxas, an American citizen of Filipino descent and her two male companions Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Jandoc. The three are community health volunteers of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – Central Luzon who were conducting a survey in La Paz, Tarlac in preparation for a medical mission when they were abducted by armed men on May 19.

    Desaparecidos deplored the malicious statement issued by the Presidential Human Rights Committee accusing Karapatan of fabricating the incident. Santos said, “victims and their families have long trusted Karapatan because they are staunch human rights defenders who work hard to assist victims, secure accountability and justice.” The families of desaparecidos said government bodies like the PHRC could not expect to gain their trust by attacking Karapatan’s good name. They also said malicious imputations against the human rights alliance will not remove attention away from continuing rights violations.

    “Blindfolded and handcuffed, we were kept in a camp where I could hear gunshots which seemed to be in a firing range and where airplanes depart and land,” quoting part of Melissa’s sworn statement, Santos said her account strongly established that the military was behind her abduction and ill-treatment.

    “Abductions, torture, enforced disappearance are occurrences that we must not condone. It is a violation against our persons and our dignity,” Santos emphasized.

    “Governments have the obligation to stop human rights abuses but the Arroyo government’s policy that permits such violations is still in place,” Santos said, referring to the Arroyo government’s Oplan Bantay Laya. In November 2007, Prof. Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, arbitrary or summary executions recommended that the Philippine government must remove extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearance from the said counter insurgency program.#

    2/F Erythrina Bldg., No.1 Maaralin corner Matatag Streets, Barangay Central, Diliman, Quezon City

    Telefax 4342837 Email: desap_hr@yahoo.com
     

     

               

     

    From KARAPATAN

    Dear Friends:

    We are furnishing you a copy of AFAD's Open Letter to Ambassador Willy Gaa of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C.  This pertains to the tirades made by the Presidential Human Rights Commission (PHRC) against Karapatan on the case of abducted community activists, namely Fil-Am Melissa Roxas, Joseph Edward Jandoc and Juanito Carabeo, that was quoted by the Embassy and posted on its website.   The statement also tried to pit human rights groups against each other in order to discredit us.  AFAD's Secretary General, Ms. Aileen Bacalso, furnished us a copy and had given leave for us to distribute the same so that everyone may know that there is no truth to what the PHRC said in the statement posted on the website by the Philippine Embassy in the U.S.

    FYI, file and reference.

    Best,

    Public Information Desk
    Karapatan
     

    ----- Forwarded Message ----
    Sent: Tuesday, June 2, 2009 11:17:01 AM
    Subject: IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO HIS EXCELLENCY WILLY GAA
     

    1 June 2009

     

    OPEN LETTER

    HIS EXCELLENCY WILLY C. GAA

    Ambassador of the Philippines

    Washington D.C.,

     

    His Excellency Gaa.

     

    On behalf of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), which has eight member-organizations from India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines and Thailand, we, are writing in relation to an official statement of the Embassy of the Philippines in Washington D.C., entitled: “Update on the Recent Alleged Abduction of Melissa Roxas, Juanito Carabeo and Edward Handoc As Reported by Karapatan and Bayan.”  Please see attached a full copy of the said statement. (Source: http://www.philippineembassy-usa.org)

     

    Our Federation is shocked by the content of the said statement, citing us as one of the sources of the information related to the above-mentioned case.  We categorically deny ownership of the information mentioned in the statement as a source of our alleged initial investigation, to wit: 

     

    “ Hence, on this recent allegation of abduction and enforced disappearances, the PHRC Secretariat immediately referred the matter to the Coalition Against Involuntary Disappearances (CAID), a more credible alliance of NGOs involved in cases of disappeared persons, to verify if indeed, such a case did exist.

    Initial information from the Families of Involuntary Disappearances (FIND) and the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), both active member-organizations of the CAID, based on their on-going investigations, revealed the following:

     

    ·         There are no reports of this case in the local government office or with the local police authorities of the Municipality of La Paz, Tarlac, where the abduction allegedly took place, filed by anyone, let alone Bayan and Karapatan.  This is surprising considering that both organizations would know that the standard operating procedure is for such cases to be immediately filed by the interested party/parties.

     

    ·         Roxas had already surfaced, while Carabeo and Handoc are allegedly still missing.  On the other hand, Roxas, for that matter Bayan and Karapatan, have yet to come out with a statement as to the actual circumstances of the alleged abduction.

     

    ·         There is strong possibility that Roxas and company were on an “ immersion” in NPA-infested areas.  And that the NPAs could have hidden them for safety purposes, perhaps after receiving reports of a possible encounter or attack by government forces.  At some point, organizations like Bayan and Karapatan wanted to take advantage of the situation by letting loose a press statement that an abduction took place, in anticipation of the possibility that Roxas and company would be killed in the crossfire.  Fortunately, no such incident occurred.

     

    ·         Another scenario being contemplated on is that Roxas was released by the NPAs precisely because her “immersion” was over, and that her two companions, being actually active members of the movement, have opted to stay on with their colleagues.

    Despite due diligence by FIND and AFAD, there are no leads that direct to an incident of abduction.”

     

    His Excellency, the Secretariat of the AFAD never made the above-mentioned “initial findings.”  We are surprised that it is mentioned in the said statement that the PHRC gave an update to your good office in Washington D.C., mentioning the above-paragraphs as results of an alleged initial investigation of AFAD  and  FIND which we, separately as a Federation and/or jointly with FIND never did?

     

     

    The AFAD is a regional federation. Thus, its task of investigation belongs primarily to its member-organizations and to the national organizations working on the issue of enforced disappearances in the Philippines, where the federation’s secretariat is based.  The AFAD principally relies on reports of its member-organizations and secondarily from the information that could be retrieved from the internet. 

     

    Investigation entails not only reading from the newspapers and retrieving information from the internet, but primarily, it entails field work – going to the place where the incident occurred; talking to the victims and/or families and relatives of the victims and possible witnesses; coordinating with pertinent authorities in the areas where the incident happened; writing of fact sheets and facilitating the execution of affidavits, etc. 

     

    The AFAD Secretariat does not conduct investigations independently from national organizations working against disappearances, not only on the case above-mentioned, but on other cases as well.  We only do it if and when invited by the national organizations in the Philippines and in other countries.  Moreover, we are not at all aware of any investigation conducted by FIND or any organization which is part of CAID on the said case.  What has always been clear to us is that this case is being taken care of by Karapatan.

     

    The Federation has no right to judge the authenticity of the case above-mentioned.   All official statements which the AFAD released are signed by its Chairperson and/or its Secretary-General.  We, the undersigned, are never aware of any investigation mission that the Federation’s secretariat participated in regarding the said case. 

     

    We find it appalling to be considered as a more credible human rights organization compared to Karapatan, since we believe that such a statement is divisive and therefore, uncalled for.  While our Federation independently works on the issue of enforced disappearances and despite our differences with other organizations, we also coordinate with the CAID as well as with Karapatan, whose constituency bears the brunt of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings during the present administration.   In the course of our work, unity is very important and we should not allow external forces to destroy whatever cooperation we have achieved, so far.

     

    To reiterate, we are shocked by the article, whose alleged source is the PHRC.  As a matter of fact, we made an urgent clarification from the PHRC as to whether or not the statement really comes from its office.  We in fact, demanded from PHRC that a retraction be made publicly at the soonest time possible.  If not true, then, we equally demanded for a public disclaimer .  Furthermore, the statement has been made publicly and is made available in the internet.  It has certainly stained the integrity of our Federation and if PHRC indeed is the source of this wrong information, we demanded for no less than a public apology.

     

    Finally, we would like to give emphasis on the Philippine government’s responsibility to conduct a thorough investigation on the above-mentioned case and leave no stone unturned to resurface all the desaparecidos and ensure the punishment of the perpetrators to the full extent of the law.  This is a basic responsibility of our government which is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and is one of the founding members of the prestigious United Nations Human Rights Council.  This should be the most appropriate action instead of discrediting the merits of the cases of human rights violations handled by Karapatan or by any organization for that matter.

    We are writing this open letter to the Embassy of the Philippines in Washington D.C., c.c. to all the other Philippine embassies worldwide in order to inform the Philippine government and all those who may have read the statement from the internet and perhaps, from other sources, that  the content of the statement is false.  

     

    May we take this opportunity to inform you that one of us, our Secretary-General, will be visiting Washington D.C. on June 20- 30, 2009.  In view of this, may we ask if an appointment with you at a date and time mutually convenient to us is possible?   We also have other equally important concerns which we want to bring to your kind attention.  If possible, may we request for a meeting on 22 June.

     

    Knowing fully well your oneness with us in the cause that we adhere to, we look forward to your positive response.

     

    Thank you very much.

    Sincerely yours,

     

    Sgd. MUGIYANTO                                 Sgd. MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO

    Chairperson                                             Secretary-General

     

    cc: Undersecretary Severo Catura, Executive Director, PHRC

         Honorable Leila de Lima, Chairperson, CHR

         Ms. Nilda Lagman-Sevilla, Chairperson, FIND

         Ms. Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Secretary-General, Karapatan

         Philippine Human Rights Committee
         Philippine embassies from 61 other countries


    --
    MARY AILEEN DIEZ-BACALSO
    Secretary-General
    Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD)
    Rms. 310-311 Philippine Social Science Center Bldg.,
    Commonwealth Ave., Diliman, 1103 Quezon City

    Phone
    : 00-632-9274594
    Telefax: 00-632-4546759
    Website:
    www.afad-online.org

     

     

     

         

     

    CANADA-PHILIPPINES SOLIDARITY
    FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
    4 June 2009
    Vancouver, BC Canada

    Justice for Melissa Roxas and Juanito Carabeo!
    Surface John Edward Jandoc!

    The Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (CPS-HR) in British Columbia vehemently condemns the abduction and torture of Melissa C.. Roxas, an American citizen of Filipino descent, in La Paz, Tarlac last May 19th 2009. Melissa Roxas was taken by suspected elements of the Philippine Armed Forces with two Filipino companions, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Jandoc from a house they were visiting. All three were forcibly taken in broad daylight and in front of witnesses.

    While we seek justice for Melissa Roxas and Juanito Carabeo, we also demand that John Edward Jandoc be immediately surfaced and freed.

    In Melissa Roxas' affidavit which was made public and in her petition presented to the Philippine Supreme Court for a writ of amparo and habeas data, Melissa recounts in detail the physical and mental torture and the denial of her other human rights during her captivity from May 19 to May 25. The interrogation and torture she received point to the military as the perpetrators. She described. among other forms of cruel and inhumane treatment, being forced to the floor, struck and hit on the head, face and body, dragged to a van, beaten, handcuffed and blindfolded while being interrogated in captivity, her head covered in plastic, and being deprived of sleep, food and water.

    Meliissa Roxas is a well known community and cultural activist and human rights advocate. She is a member of the cultural group Habi-Arts and of BAYAN-USA, the progressive alliance of Filipino organizations in the U.S. She was in the Philippines to gather materials for her writing project and to help Bayan-Tarlac members conduct a survey in their area for a future medical mission.

    The Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (CPS-HR) denounces this war of the Arroyo regime against innocent people and the cruel and cowardly practices carried out by the military and its agents with the hollow excuse of tracking and capturing alleged members of the New Peoples’ Army. What happened with Melissa Roxas and her two other companions is in itself an affirmation of UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston’s conclusion that the Philippine military officers and soldiers openly vilify legal personalities and organizations as enemies of the State, making them fair game in the counterinsurgency operations that the military conducts with impunity.

     

    The Arroyo administration continues to show its utter lack of respect for the civil and political rights of the people. It has not hidden its all-out campaign to commit acts of repression to stifle political dissent, preserve the present dispensation and use this to perpetuate itself in power, well beyond 2010. It continues to wage its Oplan Bantay Laya counter-insurgency program, emboldened by the material and financial support from the United States government.

    We admire the courage, strength and wisdom of Melissa Roxas. She resisted her abductors fiercely, kept her presence of mind in the face of torture and threats of death and bravely told her story before the world and before the court. Her story needs to be told and told loudly so that her abductors and those in command (from the Commander-in-Chief to the Defense Secretary to the Chiefs of Staff and the Chief of Police) can be held accountable and justice can be meted out.

    We are aware that Melissa Roxas's testimony of what happened to her is done at great risk to herself and to her family. We support her in her decision to speak out, not only for herself but also to help surface John Edward Jandoc. Such a response should move all freedom loving peoples to find ways to defend the victims of human rights, share their stories, expose the injustices committed by the repressive Arroyo regime and work on achieving a just and lasting peace in the Philippines.

    Stop the killings!
    Stop enforced disappearances!
    Stand Up Against Tyranny and Human Rights Violations!
    Oust the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime!

    June 4, 2009

    The Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights
    Vancouver, B.C. CANADA
    ++++++++++++++++++
    Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (CPSHR)
    is a member of the Stop the Killings (STK) Network-Canada; the International League of Peoples' Struggle (ILPS); and the International Migrants Alliance (IMA). It is also a coalition partner of the Global and Societal Ministries BC Conference of the United Church of Canada and a proud member of BAYAN-Canada.
    address: 202-4989 Duchess St. Vancouver, Canada V5R 6E5 email: cps_hr@yahoo.ca

    Filipinos and Canadians working for the promotion and defense of human rights in the Philippines.


     

     

    PRESS RELEASE
    June 2, 2009
    Reference: Lorena Santos, Deputy Secretary General
    Mobile No. 09186615099

    Arroyo gov’t must answer for abduction of Fil-Am and two other community health workers

    As the world commemorates the International Week of the Disappeared, the families of victims of enforced disappearance called on the Arroyo government to punish the perpetrators of the abduction and torture of Melissa Roxas, Juanito Carabeo and Joseph Edward Jandoc. Jandoc is still missing to this day.

    “The Arroyo government must answer for the abduction and torture of Melissa and her companions by punishing security forces who have perpetrated this dastardly act,” said Lorena Santos, Deputy Secretary General of Desaparecidos.

    Santos said the Commander-In-Chief and the chain of command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines must ensure that soldiers who are respondents in the writ of amparo petition filed on behalf of Roxas would be brought to court.

    “We at Desaparecidos are relieved to know that Melissa and Juanito are alive and were surfaced. We continue to call on security forces to surface Jandoc and others who were disappeared,” Santos whose own father, Leo Velasco was abducted by government operatives two years ago, said.

    Santos said Desaparecidos members, among them mothers of the disappeared, stood vigil with Karapatan last week to monitor the case of Melissa Roxas, an American citizen of Filipino descent and her two male companions Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Jandoc. The three are community health volunteers of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – Central Luzon who were conducting a survey in La Paz, Tarlac in preparation for a medical mission when they were abducted by armed men on May 19.

    Desaparecidos deplored the malicious statement issued by the Presidential Human Rights Committee accusing Karapatan of fabricating the incident. Santos said, “victims and their families have long trusted Karapatan because they are staunch human rights defenders who work hard to assist victims, secure accountability and justice.” The families of desaparecidos said government bodies like the PHRC could not expect to gain their trust by attacking Karapatan’s good name. They also said malicious imputations against the human rights alliance will not remove attention away from continuing rights violations.

    “Blindfolded and handcuffed, we were kept in a camp where I could hear gunshots which seemed to be in a firing range and where airplanes depart and land,” quoting part of Melissa’s sworn statement, Santos said her account strongly established that the military was behind her abduction and ill-treatment.

    “Abductions, torture, enforced disappearance are occurrences that we must not condone. It is a violation against our persons and our dignity,” Santos emphasized.

    “Governments have the obligation to stop human rights abuses but the Arroyo government’s policy that permits such violations is still in place,” Santos said, referring to the Arroyo government’s Oplan Bantay Laya. In November 2007, Prof. Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, arbitrary or summary executions recommended that the Philippine government must remove extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearance from the said counter insurgency program.#

    2/F Erythrina Bldg., No.1 Maaralin corner Matatag Streets, Barangay Central, Diliman, Quezon City

    Telefax 4342837 Email: desap_hr@yahoo.com
     

         
    News Reports: New York Times, Bulatlat, Pinoy Weekly, Inquirer
               

     

    From: New York Times

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/26/world/asia/26phils.html?_r=1

     

    American Woman Is Freed After Philippines Abduction
    By CARLOS H. CONDE
    Published: May 25, 2009

    MANILA — An American woman was freed five days after armed and hooded men believed to be military agents abducted her and two companions in a Philippine province north of Manila, her colleagues said Monday.

    The woman, Melissa Roxas, 31, an activist from Los Angeles who had been doing volunteer health work in Tarlac Province, was kidnapped on May 19 along with two other health volunteers for a nongovernmental nationalist group called Bayan.

    She “surfaced this morning,” said Renato Reyes Jr., secretary general of the group. Mr. Reyes said it was not yet clear why only Ms. Roxas was freed. The fate of the two other workers, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc, remained unknown.

    It was the first time that an American citizen had fallen victim to what Bayan and human rights groups here call “enforced disappearances,” or the abduction of activists by those suspected of being military agents.

    Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., a spokesman for the Philippine military, said the military had received a report on Ms. Roxas’s disappearance but declined to comment. “We are verifying it,” he said.

    According to Mr. Reyes, Ms. Roxas and her companions were taken at gunpoint from the village where they were working and shoved into a van that had no license plates. Mr. Reyes could not yet say whether Ms. Roxas had been harmed. He said she was with her family in Manila.

    According to the human rights group Karapatan, more than 200 Filipino activists have been kidnapped and never heard from since 2001, the year President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo came to power. Others have turned up dead or showing signs of torture.

    Groups like Human Rights Watch have said that activists’ disappearances are part of the government’s counterinsurgency campaign against leftist rebels. The military has consistently denied that charge, calling it propaganda by leftist groups sympathetic to the three-decade-old Communist movement in the Philippines.

    But the United Nations Human Rights Council, in a report last year prepared by its special rapporteur, Philip Alston, called on Ms. Arroyo to institute reforms within the military and to investigate thoroughly what Mr. Alston called “credible allegations” that the military was behind most of these killings and abductions.

    Eduardo Ermita, Ms. Arroyo’s executive secretary and spokesman, called the rapporteur’s report inaccurate and said Mr. Alston was biased toward leftists.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     

    The Awakening of Melissa R.
    PUBLISHED ON May 26, 2009 AT 7:41 AM
    www.bulatlat.com

    Melissa Roxas, the Filipino-American activist who was abducted along with two others on May 19, purportedly wrote this undated email message. Bulatlat.com is reposting it because it provides a glimpse into her character and might help explain why an American like her would be spending time in the remote villages of the Philippines, trying to help the poor.

    I want to share a story that particularly moved me about 14-year-old Adel. Adel was ten years old when her parents, were abducted and murdered by Philippine military soldiers. Her father, Expedito Albarillo was an active coordinator of Bayan Muna (a progressive political party list) in the town of San Teodoro, Mindoro Oriental. Her mother, Manuela, was an active member of Gabriela (a progressive women’s organization) in the same town. Adel told the story of how her mother hid her so the military would not know she was in the house. She heard her mother tell the military soldier to wait until she can get changed but the soldier told her not to bother because she would be killed. She peeked from where she was hidden and saw a soldier hit her father on the leg with a gun because he refused to come with them. Adel said she watched the military drag her parents outside the house and to the nearby hills. She said she felt very afraid, terrified. Later she heard successive gunshots from the direction where her parents were brought and she went outside to go find other family members in the town. They sent a team to look for her parents and when they later found them, she said they were shocked to find the bodies in the state they were in. Her father’s left eye was gouged out with a knife and gunshot wounds were found on his armpit and side. Her mother’s neck was shattered due to a gunshot below her left eye and she had other gunshot wounds in her armpit.

    After the incident Adel had to go through therapy because of the trauma. She is only one of the many children that lost their parents due to military aggression. Eden Marcellana, then secretary general of Karapatan became her second mother, as Eden was to many families who became victims of human rights violations. But because Eden was outspokenly critical of the string of human rights violations cases committed against hapless peasants, Mangyan families and leaders and members of progressive groups in Mindoro, she too became a victim of kidnapping and murder. Adel and other children lost their second mother and the area lost another dedicated human rights worker.

    We visited the sites where some of the victim’s bodies were found and also saw photographs of the scene. All the delegates professed their determination to tell the whole world about what they saw because these crimes against humanity have to stop. Adel and her older brother continue the work that their parents had begun and continue to condemn the militarization of countrysides and expose the crimes of the military and Arroyo administration. Even after having lost her parents, and her friends to these heinous crimes, Adel continues to work for change in the country, continues to defend the working poor, peasants, and those who the government have let down. All of the delegates, including myself, drew so much inspiration from this 14 year old girl and we asked ourselves, for us who do not live under direct repression, what can we do? And all vowed to remain dedicated to telling these stories and put pressure on our own governments to stop support of the Arroyo regime.

    Unfortunately, this story is only one of many from the island of Mindoro and throughout the Philippines. Even the ISM team from Mindoro experienced different forms of harassment from local police and military as we traveled through the area. We experienced harassment at checkpoints and were followed—we got a taste of what locals must go through everyday. Many testimonies were heard by the other four teams who visited Hacienda Luisita, Central Luzon, Samar Island in Eastern Visayas, and Surigao del Sur in Mindanao.

    Throughout this trip I cried many times and was deeply affected by such injustice. Also outraged that here in America, our taxpayer dollars are going to support repressive regimes like Arroyo’s. The U.S. provides financial support and training for Philippine troops. I am outraged that instead of using our hard earned tax dollars on helping the survivors of Hurricane Katrina, it goes abroad to fund wars of aggression in Iraq and the Philippines.

    After this experience I began to really understand why people say that Philippines is in a current state of undeclared martial law. The Arroyo administration and the military act under a culture of impunity – immune from any punishment and immune from the rule of law that they say they are defending. Like the Marcos years (Philippine dictator until 1986), people’s civil rights are compromised and any opposition to the government is crushed – except that Arroyo is using the pretext of the “war on terror” to suppress legitimate dissent. Like what happened in Hacienda Luisita, where striking sugarcane workers and peasants were asking for better wages and benefits, were massacred by the military and local police. What justice is there for the victims? Until now they are still fighting for those benefits and until now there has been no punishment for the military and police.

    Thank you for listening. At this point, I feel my responsibility is to tell as many people as possible about what I’ve seen, and as a writer write as much as I can about what I’ve seen. And most importantly take action.

    I remain profoundly changed by this experienced and hope that even with these poor poets words, I can help spread awareness about these issues and tell the stories that were entrusted to me, that literally was paid for by the victims with sweat and blood.

    Thank you fellow poets. Please keep in touch. I miss you all.

     

     

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     

     

    From Pinoy Weekly

    http://pinoyweekly.org/new/fil-am-tinortyur-bago-pinalaya-isa-sa-dalawang-kasamahan-nawawala-pa-rin/

     

    Fil-Am tinortyur bago pinalaya; isa sa dalawang kasamahan nawawala pa rin
    By Kenneth Roland A. Guda ⋅ June 2, 2009


    Piniringan, pinosasan buong panahon, sinampal (o sinuntok) sa panga at katawan — ito ang ilan lamang sa mga naranasan ni Melissa Roxas, aktibistang Pilipino-Amerikano na dinukot ng pinaghihinalaang mga militar sa La Paz, Tarlac noong Mayo 19 at pinalaya noong Mayo 25.

    Samantala, nakumpirmang pinalaya rin ang isa sa dalawang kasamahan ni Roxas na si Juanito Carabeo. Hindi pa rin nakukumpirma ng Karapatan kung tiyak ngang pinalaya na ang pangalawang kasamahan ni Roxas na si John Edward Tandoc, kung kaya itinuturing pa rin nilang nawawala ito.

    Ayon kay Marie Hilao-Enriquez, pangkalahatang kalihim ng Karapatan na binigyan ni Roxas ng special power of attorney para magsalita sa publiko sa ngalan niya, nasa La Paz, Tarlac sina Roxas para tumulong sa paghahanda para sa isang medical mission doon ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) sa Tarlac.

    “Tiyak kaming militar ang may kagagawan ng pagdukot sa kanila,” sabi ni Enriquez.

    Ayon sa sinumpaang salaysay ni Roxas, dinukot siya 1:30 ng hapon noong Mayo 19 habang nagpapahinga sa isang bahay sa La Paz matapos magsarbey sa lugar para sa naturang medical mission. Humigit-kumulang sa 15 armadong kalalakihan na may suot na bonnet ang pumalibot sa bahay at puwersahang pumasok dito. Tinutukan ng baril ang mga taong nasa bahay kabilang si Roxas.

    “Sinubukan nilang i-tape ang bibig ko pero napigilan ko ito at gusto nilang posasan ako pero nalabanan ko at mahigit limang tao ang nagtulung-tulong sa akin, sa paghawak sa mga kamay at binti ko…[P]atuloy na nagpumiglas ako at sumigaw sa may-ari ng bahay na, ‘Kuya, tulungan mo ako’,” sabi ni Roxas sa wikang Ingles sa kanyang sinumpaang salaysay.

    Sinigaw ni Roxas ang pangalan niya pero ilang ulit siyang sinuntok sa kanyang tagiliran at pinasok sa isang van na kulay asul 15 metro ang layo mula sa bahay.

    Dinala silang tatlo sa isang di-alam na lugar kung saan ikinulong si Roxas sa isang kuwartong “may rehas.” Nanatili siyang nakapiring at nakaposas sa likod niya.

    “Sa dalawang araw ko roon, nakarinig ako ng gawaing construction — blowtorching, pamumukpok, at ingay sa construction…Nakarinig din ako ng mga putok ng baril sa isang firing range at mga eroplanong lumilipad at luma-landing at maingay ito…” salaysay pa ni Roxas.

    Ayon kay Enriquez, may pagkakahawig ang pagsasalarawan ni Roxas sa pagsasalarawan din ni Raymond Manalo sa lugar kung saan ikinulong sila ng kanyang kapatid. Malamang, aniya, na dinala si Roxas sa Fort Magsaysay, kampo ng Philippine Army sa Nueva Ecija.

    Sa sumunod na mga araw, inenteroga si Roxas ng mga dumukot sa kanya. Pinagbintangan diumano siyang miyembro ng “CPP NPA” pero sinagot ni Roxas na “may karapatan din ako.”

    Sa sumunod na mga araw, patuloy siyang inenteroga at pisikal na sinaktan (”sinuntok ako sa aking upper sternum at sumakit ito at pagkatapos may idiniing hinlalaking daliri sa aking lalamunan…”).

    Pinuwersa umano siyang papirmahin sa isang dokumento pero tinanggihan ito ni Roxas.

    Mayo 25 nang palayain siya sa kanyang bahay sa Quezon City. Binigyan siya ng cellphone dahil “patuloy daw nila akong imomonitor.”

    Ayon kay Dr. Reggie Pamugas ng Health Action for Human Rights na siyang nag-eksamen kay Roxas, matindi ang pisikal na tortyur na dinanas ng Fil-Am na aktibista, pero buwan o taon pa raw ang lilipas bago tuluyang makerekober si Roxas sa sikolohikal na tortyur, kabilang ang takot na mamamatay siya habang nasa kustodiya ng mga dumukot sa kanya.

    Sinabi naman ni Enriquez na batay sa sirkumstansiyang inilahad ni Roxas, nakakatiyak silang militar ang dumukot kina Roxas, Tandoc at Carabeo.

    Pinabulaanan ng Karapatan ang pahayag ng Presidential Human Rights Commission na gawa-gawa lamang ng naturang grupong pangkarapatang pantao ang pagdukot. Pinabulaanan din nila ang pahayag ni Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita na “NPA ang dumukot” kay Roxas.

    Ayon kay Renato Reyes Jr., pangkalahatang kalihim ng Bayan, “Sa huling pagkakaalam namin, wala namang eroplano ang NPA.”

    Sinabi naman ni Aya Santos, pangkalahatang kalihim ng Desaparecidos, organisasyon ng mga kaanak ng mga dinukot at nawawala, na patunay ang kaso ni Roxas na nagpapatuloy ang pagdukot ng mga militar sa mga aktibista.

    “Nagpapatuloy ang pagpapatupad ng Oplan Bantay Laya,” sabi pa ni Santos. Oplan Bantay Laya ang programang kontra-insurhensiya ng gobyernong Arroyo na ayon sa mga grupong pangkarapatang pantao ay tumatarget diumano sa ordinaryong mga sibilyan na pinaghihinalaang sumusuporta sa insurhensiya.

    Sinabi ni Enriquez na patuloy na traumatized si Roxas dahil sa nangyari. Umuwi na siya sa US noong Linggo.

    Hinala ni Enriquez at Reyes na may kinalaman ang pagiging citizen ni Roxas ng US kaya siya pinalaya.

     

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    From:

    http://pugnaciouspinoy.blogspot.com/2009/05/melissa-roxas.html


    Melissa Roxas, originally uploaded by odelapaz.

     

    Roxas is a well-known Filipino American activist, who served as the first Regional Coordinator of BAYAN-USA in Los Angeles and co-founded the cultural organization Habi Arts.

     

    Roxas is an active human rights advocate and was instrumental in organizing a BAYAN-USA contingent that participated in the International Solidarity Mission in 2005, an international fact finding mission that called attention to the escalating human rights violations in the Philippines.

     

    Roxas went to the Philippines in 2007 to pursue human rights work, where she became a full time volunteer health worker. She was abducted on May 19, 2009 at approximately 1:30 PM in Sitio Bagong Sikat, Barangay kapanikian, La Paz, Tarlac. She was with two other volunteers, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc. .

    ***

    On a personal note, Melissa Roxas was a
    Kundiman fellow in 2005. She's a supremely gifted poet and a beautiful person and I'm deeply worried about her.

     

    ■   Inquirer news, June 2: FilAm activist accuses military of torture

     

     

               
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