2nd Annual Pagpupugay (Tribute)

to martial law activists and human rights defenders

Sponsored by the New York Committee for Human Rights in the
Philippines (NYCHRP) and co-sponsored by SEIU/Local 1199 United Healthworkers East.

 

New York City

 

February 3, 2010

 

 

 

 

Melissa Roxas and Marie Hilao-Enriquez were guest speakers at the second annual Pagpupugay  (Tribute), an event honoring anti-martial law activists and human rights  defenders sponsored by the New York Committee for Human Rights in the  Philippines (NYCHRP). This year's event was also co-sponsored by SEIU/Local 1199  United Healthworkers East.

 

Still fighting back tears, Roxas shared her story of abduction at gunpoint followed by six days of torture before surfacing in Quezon City last May 25th,  while conducting community surveys in preparation for a volunteer medical mission in a rural town in La Paz, Tarlac.

 

--- From press statement of NYCHRP

 

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Photos courtesy of NYCHRP
           
           

 

News Release
February 3, 2010
Reference: Yoko Liriano, NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
(NYCHRP), email: nychrp@gmail.com

In NYC, Roxas & Enriquez Address Worsening Human Rights Crisis in the
Philippines

NEW YORK-- Approximately 100 concerned New Yorkers gathered at the Martin Luther
King Jr. Labor Center this past Saturday to listen to Melissa Roxas, the first
US citizen under the Obama administration to be subjected to a gross human
rights violation in the Philippines, and veteran Philippine human rights
activist Marie Hilao-Enriquez, speak about the worsening human rights situation
in the Philippines under the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration.

Both Roxas and Enriquez were guest speakers at the second annual Pagpupugay
(Tribute), an event honoring anti-martial law activists and human rights
defenders sponsored by the New York Committee for Human Rights in the
Philippines (NYCHRP). This year's event was also co-sponsored by SEIU/Local 1199
United Healthworkers East.

Re-living Torture

Still fighting back tears, Roxas shared her story of abduction at gunpoint
followed by six days of torture before surfacing in Quezon City last May 25th,
while conducting community surveys in preparation for a volunteer medical
mission in a rural town in La Paz, Tarlac.

Roxas, who is based in Los Angeles, is a founding member of the national
Filipino-American alliance known as BAYAN USA.

"It is very hard for survivors to speak out in the Philippines because most are
still harassed and threatened by the Philippine military and police and
threatened with death and harm to themselves and their families," Roxas
explained. "Torture survivors, like myself, also find it very hard because every
time I talk about the experience its like re-living it again. But because many
more have been silenced and because one the main objectives of torture is to
silence and create fear, and to debilitate people, it is important to speak
about it."

Roxas pointed directly to the culpability of the 7th Infantry Division of the
Armed Forces of the Philippines in perpetrating the abduction and torture. Last
year, the Philippine Supreme Court granted a writ of amparo (protection) to
Roxas and validated her claim of abduction and torture, despite attacks from
former military generals that Roxas' ordeal was "stage-managed". However, the
same high court ruling denied the request for an investigation of Fort
Magsaysay, the alleged military camp where Roxas was detained.

International human rights lawyer Leonard Weinglass, a member of Roxas' legal
team, presented on Roxas' pursuit of justice in the international courts, filing
complaints with the US State Department and United Nations last year.

Counter-Insurgency Campaign

Enriquez, Chairperson of the Philippine national human rights organization
Karapatan, presented Karapatan's most current human rights report which
identifies the Arroyo government's national counter-insurgency program, Oplan
Bantay Laya (OBL), as the framework for a "reign of terror" in the Philippines.

"Oplan Bantay Laya is by far the bloodiest and most brutal counter-insurgency
campaign unleashed on the Filipino people by any Philippine president," Enriquez
stated.

According to Karapatan, OBL's objective of annihilating the ongoing armed
insurgency in the Philippine countryside is being pursued by targeting legal,
aboveground civilians critical of the policies of the Arroyo government. This
has resulted in the politically-motivated killings of over 1000 government
critics since Arroyo assumed power in 2001.

"The three tiers of opposition to the Philippine government-- the armed
rebellion in the countryside, the unarmed civil society groups, and the
progressive block in the Philippine Congress-- are all lumped into one target
for Philippine state security forces to go after," Enriquez explained.

Enriquez also reported that extrajudicial killings in 2009 surpassed the
previous annual totals since the Arroyo government assumed power in 2001 due
especially to the shocking, "unparalleled" massacre in Ampatuan, Maguindanao
which claimed 58 lives last November 23rd.

Funding State Terrorism in the Philippines

Both Roxas and Enriquez addressed the role of US military aid to the Philippines
in funding Philippine counter-insurgency operations, such as Oplan Bantay Laya.

"It is disturbing to me that the White House has been quiet about the human
rights situation in the Philippines," Roxas stated. "And Mrs. Clinton's recent
visit to the Philippines did not really address the current human rights
violation and instead she expressed her solid support for the Philippine
government and the military."

Both made strong statements for the cutting of further US military aid to the
Arroyo government for its ties to the Philippine military's perpetration of
gross human rights violations, as examined in a 2007 US Senate hearing on the
Philippines.

"For us who live here in the United States, the issue of torture and our own
government's involvement in torture, whether directly in places like Guantanamo,
or indirectly through the funding and training of the military in countries that
are guilty of human rights violations, like the Philippines, is a reality we can
no longer continue to deny, be ignorant, and choose to be indifferent," stated
Roxas.

While in New York City, NYCHRP arranged for Roxas and Enriquez to meet with
several human rights lawyers as well as a courtesy visit to the office of United
Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings Philip Alston, who reported
on the Philippine military's involvement in human rights violations when he
visited the country back in 2007.

The local human rights advocacy organization also promoted an international
election-monitoring mission to the Philippines this May 2010 known as the
People's International Observers Mission. For more information, email
nychrp@gmail.com. ###

International human rights lawyer Leonard Weinglass, a member of Roxas' legal  team, presented on Roxas' pursuit of justice in the international courts, filing complaints with the US State Department and United Nations last year.

Enriquez, Chairperson of the Philippine national human rights organization Karapatan, presented Karapatan's most current human rights report which identifies the Arroyo government's national counter-insurgency program, Oplan  Bantay Laya (OBL), as the framework for a "reign of terror" in the Philippines.

     
     
     
           
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