Press Statement – 26 June 2009
References: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Secretary General (09178176274)
DJ Acierto, Public Information Officer (09189790580)
End the policy of Torture and human rights violations; Stop Oplan
The human rights organization, Karapatan, together with the Samahan ng mga
Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at para sa Amnestiya (SELDA), Hustisya!
and the families of the Desaparecidos, today observes the International
Day In Solidarity with Victims of Torture with a protest action in front
of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA). NICA IS one of
the government agencies that plans the notorious Oplan Bantay Laya, a
counter-insurgency program that victimizes Filipinos.
Only recently, on June 21, 2009, Obito Marquez, an activist, was abducted
by the police in Taguig, and on June 25, Police Supt. Roberto L. Rosales
announced that the Police bagged Obito as top rebel with a bounty on his
head. But up to now, Obito has not been shown to his family.
We condemn the continuing policy of torture, extrajudicial executions and
disappearances by state security forces in this so-called
counter-insurgency program. The government cannot belie the testimonies of
survivors Raymond Manalo, Melissa Roxas and Berlin Guerrero, and so many
others that gave details how the military is involved in their torture and
the torture of other individuals. The government should also be held
accountable for the psychological torture of political detainees, among
them Elizabeth Principe and Eduardo Serrano and the torture and the sexual
abuse of political prisoner Angelina Bisuña Ipong.
Today, June 26, 2009 also marks the third year of the abduction and
disappearance of UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, farmer
Manuel Merino and NDFP consultant and staff Prudencio Calubid, Celina
Palma, Gloria Soco and Ariel Beloy.
Manalo testified that he witnessed members of the military tie Sherlyn
Cadapan to a ceiling post, beat her up and force her to admit that she was
an NPA member while being sexually molested, too.
Despite the fact that the Philippines is a signatory to the United Nations
Covenant Against Torture, the regime failed miserably in its compliance to
the said Covenant, as evidenced by the recent concluding observations of
the 42nd session of the Committee against Torture that reviewed the
Philippine human rights record in April 2009. The Committee had a scathing
conclusions on the government for its failure to implement the provisions
prescribed by the covenant and end the atrocities and impunity.
The Alliance expresses its strongest condemnation of the recent promotion
granted to the human rights violators who figured in the abduction and
disappearance of Jonas Burgos, namely, Lt. Col. Noel Clement, Lt. Col.
Mequiades Feliciano and Lt. Col. Edison Caga to colonels. Clement was
former commander of Army’s 56th Infantry Battalion based in Bulacan while
Caga headed the 69th Infantry Battalion. By this action, Gloria Arroyo
proves once again that she's a stalwart for human rights violators and
We lament that, instead of probing deeper the participation of armed
personnel in the abductions, they are given promotions, showing that the
regime is not sincere in doing what it can to give justice to the victims
of human rights violations.
We reiterate that the government should act to end the practice of
torture, enforced disappearances, and other forms of human rights
violations. We challenge the government to uphold its compliance to the
treaties it signed; to immediately punish all perpetrators of these
violations, render justice to victims and provide them protection. We,
likewise, call on the government to finally implement the Anti-Torture
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.
Rhonda Ramiro, Secretary General, BAYAN-USA
June 27, 2009
On the afternoon of May 19, Melissa Roxas was abducted in the Philippines,
along with her companions, John Edward Jandoc and Juanito Carabeo. An
American citizen of Filipino descent, Melissa was part of a health
services team preparing for a medical mission in the community of Tarlac
in the Central Luzon area of the Philippines. On May 26, Melissa surfaced
Today we will hear Melissa describe for herself the inhumanity she
experienced at the hands of her abductors.
Unfortunately, Melissa’s experience is not isolated. Her experiences
typifies the pattern of abductions, forced disappearances, torture,
extra-judicial killings and other human rights violations committed under
the presidency of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Since 2001, the number of victims of human rights violations has reached
record levels in the Philippines, alarming the United Nations and human
rights organizations around the world including Amnesty International and
Human Rights Watch. The human rights organization Karapatan documented the
following number of victims of grave human rights violations from January
Extra-judicial executions 1,017
Enforced, involuntary disappearance 201
Reports issued by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Killings
Philip Alston, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Karapatan
have concluded that the vast majority of the victims were community
organizers, labor leaders, church workers, human rights attorneys,
farmers, and journalists and others who were addressing the needs of the
oppressed and impoverished majority.
They have concluded that the Philippine military has systematically and
with impunity carried out politically-motivated executions, abductions,
torture and arrests against unarmed civilians like Melissa as part of
their counter-insurgency program, Oplan Bantay Laya.
The reaction of any caring person, any person with a heart is to comfort
the victim, and hold the perpetrator accountable, and prevent these crimes
from happening again. Instead, the Philippine government immediately
denies responsibility. Even worse, the government pours salt in the wounds
of those whose bodies they have tormented by blaming the victim.
International human rights monitoring agencies have found that the
Philippine government uses red-baiting tactics, and vilifies the victim.
They attempt to shift responsibility from themselves and their armed
forces by saying things like, “Melissa must have been waiting to be
abducted,” or that she went to that community in Tarlac knowing that she
could be abducted because she wanted to make the government look bad.
We do not even need to say how ridiculous these arguments are. This is not
about left vs. right. This is about right vs. wrong. Torture is wrong. And
torture is always against the law.
There is something that makes the case of Melissa Roxas even more
infuriating for many of us here in this church. We who are Melissa’s
friends, family, and fellow human rights advocates, who live here in the
U.S. And this is the fact that the hard-earned money we pay to the U.S.
government in taxes is what paid for these crimes to be committed against
The U.S. government sends tens of millions of dollars in military aid
every single year to the Philippines. The U.S. pays for thousands of
American military troops and advisors to train the Philippine military
every single year.
Our return on investment has been the killing, abduction, and torture of
thousands of innocent people, including an American citizen, Melissa
U.S. military aid is funding state-sponsored violence. U.S. military aid
is funding national insecurity.
The U.S. has given nearly $1 billion in military aid to the Philippines
since 1999. In California, that same amount of money could have provided
health care to over 400,000 people.
The U.S. government has blood on its hands because it funds and trains the
Philippine military in misguided counterinsurgency tactics that do nothing
but terrorize innocent people.
It is time for change.
We seek a change in the U.S. policies which support human rights abuses in
the Philippines. We call for an end to the use of our tax dollars to fund
the Philippine military which commits these atrocities. The Justice for
Melissa Roxas campaign demands accountability by the perpetrators of these
crimes against Melissa.
Melissa Roxas is one of thousands of innocent victims of abduction and
torture stage-managed by the Arroyo government, performed by the
Philippine military, and funded by U.S. military aid.
But she is one of the rare victims who has lived to tell her story. I
invite all of you today to listen to this brave woman tell her story. And
I invite all of you to carry the Justice for Melissa Roxas campaign. At
this time, I would like to welcome Melissa Roxas
JUSTICE FOR MELISSA ROXAS
Press Conference Statement
By: Arnedo S. Valera, Esq.
US Counsel for Melissa Roxas
Migrant Heritage Commission (Legal Resource Program)
June 27, 2009
Let me thank all the media both in the U.S and the Philippines for this
opportunity to present the very compelling case of Melissa. We hope that
you will be and will remain our genuine partner in our collective pursuit
for justice for Melissa and her family.
Melissa is a US citizen. She is the first known American citizen to have
become a victim of abduction and torture in the Philippines under the new
administration of President Barack Obama.
Melissa’s parents and extended families in the U.S. belong to the more
than four million Filipino migrants/immigrants in the United States. They
are immigrants who have adopted the US as their home. And just like other
Filipino overseas, they contribute significantly to the economy of their
host country and their country of origin.
It is very difficult indeed, to imagine that Melissa, a US citizen and a
member of the immigrant family will be subjected to torture and inhuman
treatment in a government headed by a woman President who always
religiously profess adherence to human rights law. Obviously, what we see
is an affirmation of how the Arroyo govt. play lip service to the cause
and promotion of human rights in the Phil.
Torture is abhorrent both to American law and values and to international
norms. President Obama himself has made strides in making a stand against
torture and ill treatment. He criticized interrogation practices during
the Bush administration and promised to close the U.S. detention center at
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and he wants to clean up the U.S. reputation on human
rights after Bush eight years of administration policies . The new
President has given the men the clear charge to restore the United States'
record on human rights. "We must adhere to our values as diligently as we
protect our safety with no exceptions. We will abide by the Geneva
Conventions. We will uphold our highest ideals", Obama said.
In a quite ironic event, during the Migrant Heritage Commission People’s
Ball on June 7 to celebrate the 103 years of Filipino Migration to the
U.S. and the Philippine Independence Day, democratic Congressman Jim Moran
of the 8th of Virginia raised howl over Melissa’s abduction and torture.
He said that, “People get kidnapped and just because they’re
Filipino-Americans, their country of origin feels some right to kidnap,
even to abuse them. The reality is that Melissa is an American’” just like
my daughter is an American." "The Philippine government or military or
paramilitary, whoever it was that abducted her, committed a crime, he
For him, there should be a direct link between military aid to a country
and the way that country treats its own people and its neighbors. “If a
military is going to try to act with impunity whether it be in the
Philippines, Indonesia, any other nation whether in Asia, Africa or South
America, they should not be receiving military assistance because military
assistance is meant to be used to further American values,” Moran added.
The Phil. Government should be ashamed for characterizing Melissa’s ordeal
as a “stage-managed” abduction and nothing more than a stunt perpetuated
by the petitioner and her handlers to gain tremendous “media mileage” and
questioning the petitioner’s truthfulness to the extent of her sanity.
These unapologetic and rhetorical comments are highly irresponsible,
immoral, absurd and grave insult to the intelligence of the victim and the
Filipino people. These fallacies played by government as their defense(s)
against Roxas are cynical attempts to displace their direct responsibility
and avoid whatever form of culpability for the crimes they have committed
vs. Melissa. Melissa was tortured and that is a fact. The government‘s
position is so absurd and highly improbable, that either their theories)
of escaping liability is that: the abduction and torture of Melissa did
not happen or that Melissa inflicted unto herself such as to be hanged,
punched, choked and suffocated by a plastic bag all alone. Her abduction
typify the abductions and enforced disappearances of innocent civilians,
allegedly last seen in the hands of suspected state security forces.
The very least that the Philippine Government should have done, if there
is still any moral and legal decency left on its sleeves, is to surface
the abductors and torturers instead of flat and empty denials. They know
what they have done to Melissa. Their act of impunity exhibits little
respect for life, freedom, justice and the law of nations. They should be
Since Melissa is a US Citizen, she could file a tort action in Federal
Courts for damages for the Intentional Tort of an Unlawful Kidnapping,
assault. Etc. Under the Intentional Tort case, Melissa could seek punitive
and compensatory damages vs. her identified assailants and if not to
initiate the case and litigation against the Philippine Government. A
deliberate torture was perpetrated vs. a U.S Citizen, under the color of
official authority violates universally accepted norms of international
human rights law, and that such a violation of international law
constitutes a violation of the domestic law of the United States. There is
no doubt that the assailants who tortured Melissa were acting as agents of
the Philippine Government, considering that the Arroyo administration has
been reported as committing systematic and gross human rights violations
vs. its citizens who are expressing legitimate dissent and in the free
exercise of their free speech and assembly.
The factual truth is that Melissa was tortured by a group of unidentified
military personnel, who were implementing a counter insurgency operations
mapped by the military with the stamped approval of President Arroyo.
Instead of following the rule of law, they applied on Melissa, the rule of
the jungle where his fundamental rights as a U. S Citizen was never
Because the Arroyo administration violated the provisions of the
International Covenant Against Torture, The Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights and the UN Declaration of Human Rights, private
complaints can be lodged by Melissa before the appropriate UN agencies or
special bodies in charge of investigating this and even go to the extent
of recommending prosecution of the guilty military personnel. If indeed
there is a finding of gross pattern of human rights violations being
committed by the govt. against its citizenry, the Philippine government
should be expelled from its membership in the UN Human Rights committee.
We can ask the Special UN Rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak to
investigate the Roxas case, file a complaint with the State Department
against the Philippine government and that a thorough investigation to be
done by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
There is a strong legal possibility that because Melissa is a U.S Citizen,
extra territorial jurisdiction can be exercised by the U.S to bring the
perpetrators over to the U.S for trial under the Convention against
Torture and violations of U.S laws.
Yesterday, the international community historically commemorated the UN
International Day in Support of Torture Victims. President Obama on this
occasion said: “Torture is contrary to the founding documents of our
country and the fundamental values of our People.” The US must stand
against torture wherever it takes place.”
To all of you who are supporting Melissa and all victims of torture and
human rights violations: Let us always remember that Justice is not
something that is begged for, it is something that one must aspire and
fight for. And this is what we need to do for Melissa as one
U.S. Citizen Abducted and
Tortured by Suspected Philippine Military Agents to Speak Publicly for
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 26, 2009
Contact: Rhonda Ramiro, firstname.lastname@example.org
U.N. Day in Support of Torture Victims Marked with Press Conference by
Torture Survivor Melissa Roxas
What: Press Conference of Melissa Roxas, recent victim of abduction and
When: Saturday, June 27, 2009
Time: 4-5:30 PM
Where: Echo Park United Methodist Church
1226 N. Alvarado St.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Live Web Stream: www.bayan.ph
LOS ANGELES, CA – In her first public appearance since being released from
captivity, Melissa Roxas, a U.S. citizen abducted and tortured in the
Philippines from May 19-25, will hold a press conference to describe the
human rights abuses she endured while held for six days in an alleged
military camp. Ms. Roxas, an American human rights advocate of Filipino
descent, is the first known American citizen to have become a victim of
abduction and torture in the Philippines, a country which has drawn
international condemnation for state-sponsored human rights atrocities.
In a sworn affidavit submitted to the Philippine Supreme Court, Ms. Roxas
described being abducted at gunpoint by several heavily armed men, brought
to what she believed is a military camp, held against her will, questioned
without the presence of an attorney, beaten repeatedly, and asphyxiated
using plastic bags before being released. During the press conference, Ms.
Roxas is expected to demand accountability from the Philippine government
and military, who she holds responsible for her ordeal, as well as the
U.S. government for providing funding and training to the Philippine
military. Reports by the United Nations, Amnesty International,
Philippine-based human rights organization Karapatan, and Human Rights
Watch have overwhelmingly concluded that the Philippine military is
responsible for systematically carrying out human rights violations such
as abduction, torture and extra-judicial killings against innocent
civilians. Nearly $1 billion worth of U.S. military aid and materiel has
been granted to the Philippines since 1999, the year the U.S.- Philippines
Visiting Forces Agreement was enacted.
The experience of Ms. Roxas is
considered typical for the 200 cases of abduction and 1,010 cases of
torture recorded since Gloria Macapagal Arroyo became president of the
Philippines in 2001. The Philippine government’s quick denial of
responsibility for Ms. Roxas’ abduction and torture is also considered a
typical response; in his 2007 report on the Philippines, U.N. Special
Rapporteur Philip Alston cited such systematic denial by the government as
one of the primary obstacles to stopping the rampant human rights
violations plaguing the country. In his 2009 follow-up report, Alston
indicated a general failure of the Arroyo government to stop the
persistent human rights violations. In April 2009, the UN Committee
Against Torture (UNCAT) also released a report detailing the use of
torture by the Philippine military.
At the press conference, Ms. Roxas’ legal counsel, Attorney Arnedo Valera,
will explain the potential legal remedies that are being explored,
including the filing of a tort action in U.S. Federal Court for punitive
and compensatory damages against her identified assailants or the Arroyo
government in the absence of named assailants; the lodging of a private
complaint before the U.S. Department of State, Human Rights Desk against
the Philippine government for the violation of the fundamental rights of a
U.S. citizen; and the filing of a complaints before the appropriate U.N.
agencies for violations of the International Covenant Against Torture, the
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the U.N. Declaration of Human
The press conference will be held in Los Angeles, CA and broadcast live on
the website www.bayan.ph. Media in the Philippines will be hosted
simultaneously by Bayan Philippines and will be able to ask questions in
real time. The U.S.-based press conference is sponsored by the Justice for
Melissa Roxas Campaign, whose membership includes Ms. Roxas’ legal
counsel, BAYAN-USA, GABRIELA USA, Katarungan Center for Peace, Justice and
Human Rights, and the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns. ###
29 June 2009
Source: Emmi de Jesus, Secretary General, 371-2302 / 0197-3221203
ON FIL-AM MELISSA ROXAS' FIGHT FOR JUSTICE
GABRIELA National Alliance of Women in the Philippines commends
Fil-American and BAYAN US member Melissa Roxas for her courage to tell the
world of her harrowing experience in the hands of the merciless Philippine
military and to seek justice not only for herself but for other Filipinos
who were and are victims of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP)
atrocious violations of the human rights.
There is no doubt that the AFP was behind the abduction and torture of
Melissa. It is enraging that after subjecting Melissa to such ordeal, the
AFP now attempts to belittle Melissa's testimony and to even mock her by
claiming that her account is but an act. The AFP never admitted to the
countless killings, involuntary disappearances, torture and other forms of
violations of the Filipino people. The AFP is a fascist institution that
historically and systematically violated the rights of women and men who
dared uphold the interests of the masses. As such, it is the AFP that has
mastered the act of denial.
Melissa surfaced to tell and she now lends her voice to the many women who
remains missing like Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno; to those who are
still languishing in jail like Angie Ipong and Eizabeth Principe; and to
those who have been silenced permanently like Beng Hernandez and Rebelyn
Pitao. Melissa now seeks justice not for only for herself but for all
victims of the Arroyo regime's policy of silencing the Filipino people's
Since Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took office in January 21, 2001 until March
2009, more than a thousands Filipinos were victims of extra judicial
killings; 119 of them are women. More than 200 were victims of involuntary
disappearance, 30 are women; 223 are jailed for political reasons, 27 are
women and four are minors.
These are not mere numbers but lives extinguished, vanished and
constrained. This is the legacy of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who
now even shamelessly seeks to perpetuate her power indefinitely.
Melissa's voice will not be lone. The Filipino women and men, in seeking
justice and to stop human rights violations in the Philippines now
heightens the fight to end the reign of Arroyo's fascist regime. The women
of GABRIELA are one with Melissa in her fight for justice and for all
Filipino victims of human rights violations.###
FROM: PINOY WEEKLY
Melissa Roxas, sinariwa ang
alaala ng tortyur; nangakong kakasuhan ang gobyernong Arroyo
Muling sinariwa ni Melissa
Roxas, aktibistang Filipino-Amerikano, ang tortyur na sinapit niya sa
kamay ng diumano’y mga militar matapos dukutin at ikulong ng mga ito sa La
Paz, Tarlac noong Mayo 19 hanggang 25.
Sinabi pa ni Roxas na handa siyang magsampa ng kaso laban sa gobyernong
Arroyo at sa militar nito dahil sa sinapit niya at ng dalawang kasamahan
unang pagkakataon si Roxas sa isang press conference na
ibinrodkas sa pamamagitan ng live streaming sa
ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan).
Nasa Los Angeles, California sa US si Roxas, isang US citizen.
Umuwi siya sa US matapos pakawalan sa Quezon City ng mga dumukot sa kanya.
Basahin ang buo: