Filipino Americans to
President Obama: Ask Arroyo about Melissa Roxas and the thousands of
victims of state-sponsored torture, abductions, and killings in the
July 25th, 2009
Contact: Rhonda Ramiro
Nationwide Actions Demand a Reversal of the Failed Bush-Arroyo Doctrine
and Call for REAL Change in US Policy Toward the Philippines
During nationwide actions this week marking the annual “State of the
Nation Address” in the Philippines, BAYAN-USA declared that it would
demand accountability from the Philippine government for the illegal
abduction and torture of American citizen Melissa Roxas and call on
President Barack Obama to discuss the human rights crisis in the
Philippines in his meeting with Philippine President Gloria Macapagal
Arroyo on July 30. Roxas, who is the first US citizen known to be tortured
in the Philippines during the Obama administration, was abducted, held in
captivity and tortured by alleged military agents in the Philippines from
May 19-25, 2009.
The Arroyo-Obama meeting also coincides with a hearing of the Court of
Appeals in the Philippines on Roxas’ case, at which Roxas will testify
about the violent abduction and torture including repeated beatings and
asphyxiation with plastic bags that she endured during her six days in
captivity in what she believes was a military camp. The meeting of
President Arroyo and President Obama also occurs as the US Senate and
House deliberate over next year’s military aid package to the Philippines;
the current year’s military aid package is $32 million. US military aid to
the Philippine grew a staggering 1,500% during the Bush administration and
is widely believed to have funded the Philippine military personnel that
committed the human rights atrocities, which includes a body count of at
least 1,013 people killed and 1,036 people tortured.
“Neglecting to question Arroyo about Melissa Roxas and the thousands of
human rights violations being committed by the Philippine military makes
the Obama administration complicit in the perpetration of these heinous
crimes,” stated Rhonda Ramiro, Secretary General of BAYAN-USA. “Granting
tens of millions of US tax dollars to the murderous Philippine military
would make President Obama just as guilty as Bush in the continuing
torture and murder of innocent people.”
BAYAN-USA and representatives of churches, community organizations, labor
unions, and other concerned groups are appealing to President Obama to
live up to his declarations of “change,” by asking President Arroyo what
action she intends to take about the rampant human rights violations that
continue to plague the Philippines. They are also calling on President
Obama to specifically ask President Arroyo, as Commander in Chief, to
ensure that the Philippine military cooperates with the investigation into
“On the UN International Day in Support of Torture Victims, President
Obama declared, ‘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.’ We are asking President Obama to
live up to his words by taking a stand against the state-sanctioned
torture used by the Philippine military against government critics,” said
During her meeting with President Obama, President Arroyo is expected to
make a pitch for support of her proposed changes to the Philippine
Constitution, known in the Philippines as “Charter Change.” Despite
widespread popular opposition, President Arroyo has relentlessly
campaigned for Charter Change for over two years, including during today’s
State of the Nation Address. Charter Change would wipe out constitutional
protections that protect Philippine sovereignty by allowing 100% foreign
ownership of Philippine land and key industries, as well as open the door
to a power extension for President Arroyo beyond the end of her term in
Recent polls show extremely low approval ratings of President Arroyo.
Since Arroyo became president in 2001, the Philippines has experienced the
longest period of sustained high unemployment in its history, at 11.2% or
10.8 million people unemployed and underemployed; a cumulative national
government deficit of P1.29 trillion, which is triple the deficits of the
Aquino, Ramos and Estrada administrations combined; more human rights
violations against innocent civilians than under any previous president
including Ferdinand Marcos; and at least 16 documented government
corruption scandals amounting to $430 million in kick-backs and pay-offs
to government officials and relatives.
“If President Obama is serious about promoting peace and supporting
lasting change in the Philippines, he should oppose Arroyo’s Charter
Change,” stated Ramiro. “Charter Change would result in less security for
Filipinos and Americans alike, because it would worsen poverty and pave
the way for an Arroyo dictatorship.”
We want REAL CHANGE NOT Charter Change
We want HUMAN RIGHTS NOT Torture
We want DEMOCRACY NOT Dictatorship
We want SOVEREIGNTY NOT Foreign Rule
We want REAL SECURITY NOT State Terrorism
We want JUSTICE FOR MELISSA ROXAS AND ALL VICTIMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS
VIOLATIONS NOT Denials and Cover-Ups
No US Military Aid for Torture, Abductions and Killings in the Philippines
Investigate the Abduction and Torture of Melissa Roxas
BAYAN-USA Actions being held in the U.S
The Real State of the Nation: Community Forum, Play, and Action
Monday, July 27, 2009, 6:00 PM
Bayanihan Community Center
40-21 69th St.
New York, NY
Cha-Cha-Cha Change We Can Believe In: Action to Demand REAL Change and
Justice for Melissa Roxas
Monday, July 27, 2009, 4:00 PM
Corner of Mission Street and 7th Street
San Francisco, CA
Justice for Melissa Roxas and State of the Nation Action
Coincides with Melissa Roxas’ Writ of Amparo Hearing in the Philippines
Wednesday, July 29, 2009, 7:00 PM
In front of the Philippine Consulate
3600 Wilshire Blvd (between S Harvard Blvd and S Kingsley Dr)
Los Angeles, CA
Additional Actions being held in the US
Vigil for Human Rights in the Philippines
Thursday, July 30, 2009, 6:00 PM
St. Patrick’s Catholic Church
756 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA
Sponsored by the USA-Philippines Ecumenical Advocacy Network
Justice for Melissa Roxas Action and Prayer Vigil
Coincides with Meeting of President Barack Obama and President Gloria
Thursday, July 30, 2009, 11:00 AM
Sponsored by Katarungan: Center for Peace, Justice and Human Rights in the
In front of the White House
BY: MELISSA ROXAS
Committee on Human Rights, House of Representatives
July 29, 2009
Good morning, honorable members of the House of Representatives, friends
and human rights advocates.
I am Melissa Roxas. Thank you for allowing me to come here today to tell
you of my ordeal, which is also a story of many other Filipinos who were
abducted and tortured by the military.
I am a member of Habi Arts, a Filipino cultural organization based in Los
Angeles. I am also a member of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan - USA.
I came to the Philippines to learn more about my roots and heritage, to
know more about the plight of the impoverished Filipino people and to
conduct research for my writing projects. I volunteered with Bayan in the
Philippines because I feel that I can achieve my objectives more
meaningfully through Bayan’s work with the communities both in the urban
and rural areas. To this end, I thought I can put to better use my
background on community health.
I am a writer and a poet. I am also an activist.
I have reason to believe that the Philippine military were the ones who
took me and my companions, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Jandoc, against
our will on May 19. I have reason to believe that the military were the
ones who handcuffed, blindfolded, beat me up, suffocated me and denied me
of my rights. I have reason to believe that I was brought to a military
camp for interrogation.
For six days in captivity, my captors tried to force me to admit that I'm
a member of the New People's Army, accused me of being a member of the NPA
and told me that it was "people like me" who are the ones who are making
it difficult for the government.
Although I repeatedly invoked my right to see a lawyer, my abductors told
me that I will not be able to see a lawyer and instead threatened that
they can do all they wanted to do with me because they “got me clean.”
They threatened me with death and accused me of so many things, especially
that of being a member of the NPA. Because of the fear of more pain and I
thought that dying came so slow, I told myself to just play along with
whatever they tell me I am guilty of and to be back to the fold of the
law, as what Dex told me their mission was.
Surprisingly, on May 25, I was released by my captors near my family’s
house and instructed me to keep in touch with them; that they hope I do
not harbor any ill-feelings against them because the ones who tortured me
are from the “special operations group” and not from their group. I was so
terrified and traumatized by this harrowing experience that as soon as I
can get a flight to the US, I had to leave to reunite with my family.
Although still very much afraid for my life and safety, I had to come back
to testify before the Court of Appeals and other investigative bodies to
obtain justice and tell the public what happened to me so that people
would know and they will not allow this to happen to anyone again.
Now, other people are accusing me of being an NPA, forcing me to admit
that I'm an NPA and insisting that I was abducted and tortured by the NPA.
I reiterate, I am an activist. I am not a member of the NPA.
And I have reason to believe that the Philippine military were the ones
who abducted and tortured me, and held me captive for 6 days. I do not
like to dignify the allegations being hurled at me now as they only echo
what my abductors have been forcing me to admit during my interrogation
and illegal, incommunicado detention. I have filed a petition for the writ
of habeas data. I am asking the Supreme Court that all records pertaining
to me including videos and photos, false and true, should be expunged and
destroyed as they violate my right to privacy. I insist on that.
I can no longer count how many times I have narrated the incident and my
ordeal. But I will not tire to tell the truth about what happened for I
seek justice, not only for myself, but for others who have gone through
the same. I seek justice, not only for what they did to me, but for other
victims of human rights violations.
There are still families looking for their loved ones, and many more still
missing. I hope that this august body will also look into the cases of
those others still missing and those who have been killed. Thank you very
NOTES ON THE COMMITTEE
Congresspersons in attendance:
Rep. Lorenzo Tanada III, Chairperson
Rep. Satur Ocampo, Deputy Minority Leader
Rep. Liza Maza, Assistant Minority Leader
Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay)
Rep. Neri Javier Colmenares (Bayan Muna)
Rep. Roman Romulo (Pasig)
Rep. Ruffy Biazon (Muntinlupa)
Rep. Luz Ilagan,(Gabriela Womens Party)
Rep. Rafael Mariano (Anakpawis)
Rep.Raymond Palatino (Kabataan)
Rep. Risa Hontiveros (Akbayan)
Ms. Melissa Roxas, BAYAN-USA, victim of abduction and torture
Atty. Rex J.M.A. Fernandez, Counsel for Melissa Roxas
Dr. Beng Reyes, attending doctor of Ms. Roxas
Dr. Reggie Pamugas, attending doctor of Ms. Roxas
Comm. Leila de Lima (Commission on Human Rights, Chair)
Comm. Coco Quisumbing (Commission on Human Rights)
Comm. Jose Mamauag (Commission on Human Rights)
Comm. Norberto dela Cruz (Commission on Human Rights)
Comm. Victoria Cardona (Commission on Human Rights)
Melissa, read the full statement above, breaking into tears many times.
Ms. Roxas is in pursuit of justice not only for herself, but for all
others who are still missing and who have been tortured by state security
forces. She is in the custody of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
She was questioned by Reps. Lagman, Ocampo, Ilagan, Hontiveros as of this
The House Committee on Human Rights held the motu propio hearing today in
light of its work on the passage of the anti-torture bill and the ongoing
hearings of the said Committee on the human rights violations across the
Roxas also said that cartographic sketches of some of her abductors and
torturers have already been done and are in the custody of the CHR.
Melissa will appear before the Court of Appeals tomorrow for the hearing
on her petition for a writ of amparo.
For photos, please credit to Vincent Borneo.
For your information and use.
Vincent Michael L. Borneo
Political Affairs Officer
(Media and Public Relations)
Office of Deputy Minority Leader
and BAYAN MUNA Rep. Satur C. Ocampo
Rm. 416, RVMitra Bldg.,
House of Representatives, Quezon City
Telefax no: 951-1057
Press Release – 29 July 2009
Hernandez, Hustisya! spokesperson
Mobile no. 09158562151
Relatives of rights violations condemn Palparan,
call for justice for Melissa
Relatives of victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearance
led by Hustisya! (Victims of Arroyo Regime United for Justice) and
Desaparecidos, and human rights advocates of Karapatan, held a protest
today at the Congress gates to condemn the machinations of Gen. Jovito
Palparan, Jr. to discredit the trestimony of Fil-Am activist Melissa Roxas.
The groups also call for justice for Melissa Roxas and show her their
support at the hearing of the Congress Committee on Human Rights on Roxas'
abduction and torture case.
Hustisya! convener and spokesperson Evangeline Hernandez said that Gen.
Palparan and his minions in the Armed Forces should be held accountable
for the numerous political killings and disappearances of activists and
unarmed civilians in Southern and Central Luzon and Eastern Visayas while
he was in command in these regions.
"The Butcher Palparan should be jailed for his hand in the killings and
disappearance of scores of activists," Hernandez said.
The Supreme Court ruling dated December 26, 2007 has affirmed the decision
of the Court of Appeals on the participation of Gen. Palparan on the
abduction and torture of brothers Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo. The Supreme
Court declared, “Gen. Palparan’s participation in the abduction was also
established. At the very least, he was aware of the petitioners’ captivity
at the hands of men in uniform assigned to his command.” (G.R. No. 180906)
Hernandez also said that Palparan's and ANAD Partylist representative
Pastor Alcover's allegations that abducted Filipino-American activist
Melissa Roxas is a member of the New People's Army, is nothing but a
campaign to divert the media attention from Roxas' abduction and torture.
This is also the same line that the military has been using to vilify
their victims before they were killed or disappeared.
"Melissa Roxas was abducted and tortured. We believe that the military is
behind this because her testimony is similar to the narration of other
victim-survivors of abduction and torture by the military," Hernandez
Hernandez also added that relatives of victims of extrajudicial killings
and enforced disappearances shall help fight for justice for Melissa Roxas,
and continue to fight for justice for their loved ones. "We shall troop
inside the congress hearing and show our support to Melissa."
"We laud Ms. Roxas' strength and courage to recount her ordeal and for
telling the world her story in spite of her fears and danger that she has
to face," Hernandez said.##
Video: CHR Hearing on Melissa Roxas Torture Turns Into a Witchhunt
In this video, former general Jovito Palparan and
ANAD party list Rep. Pastor Alcover question the credibility and integrity
of Commission on Human Rights chairman Leila de Lima, insinuating that de
Lima is partisan because of her relationship with the wife of communist
leader Jose Maria Sison. But de Lima refused to be cowed, asking Alcover
if this is part his “psy-war.”
Watch the video
In Outburst Vs Palparan, Torture Victim Vents Frustration Over Continuing
When Raymond Manalo suddenly stood up and shouted
invectives at former general and now congressman Jovito Palparan during a
hearing yesterday at the Commission on Human Rights, he was only venting
his frustration that the man he had accused of abducting him and torturing
him for 18 long months has not been punished.