Five Years After Melissa’s Abduction, Aquino Worsens Human Rights Crisis
On May 19, 2009, BAYAN USA founding member Melissa Roxas was abducted by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines while conducting a pre-medical mission community survey in a poor community in Tarlac, Philippines. Before surfacing in Quezon City on May 25, Melissa was held in secret detention in a military camp where she was subjected to 6 days of physical and psychological torture. Five years later, not only does Melissa remain one of thousands of victims of gross human rights atrocities perpetrated by the Philippine military under former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who have yet to see justice, but the human rights crisis in the Philippines is worsening under the B.S. Aquino administration.
Instead of turning the tide on Arroyo’s bloody counter-insurgency campaign Oplan Bantay Laya I and II– which claimed 1,206 victims of extrajudicial killings, 206 victims of enforced disappearances, 2,059 victims of illegal arrests, and 1,099 victims of torture– the Aquino administration continues the tide of systemic human rights violations with Oplan Bayanihan.
At the same time, neither Arroyo nor any perpetrator has been held accountable for human rights abuses, despite well-documented accounts and evidence compiled from the victims and the human rights organization Karapatan of Philippine military involvement. This includes former Philippine military general Jovito Palparan, a direct respondent to Melissa’s complaint to the Philippine Commission on Human Rights, who remains coddled by the Philippine military despite an arrest warrant for the 2006 abduction of two students from the University of the Philippines. Aquino continues what the US-based Human Rights Watch and other international watchdogs have tagged a “reign of impunity.”
Also disturbing is that this impunity continues despite the fact that the Philippine government is supposedly engaged in peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. However, instead of abiding by signed agreements to protect and uphold human rights, such as the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, under Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan the Philippine military has instead mounted a campaign to criminalize any group or individual who openly criticizes the GPH’s anti-people policies, even aboveground grassroots people’s organizations. Such action undermines the possibility of genuinely pursuing peace talks as a path to addressing the root problems of social unrest in the country.
Neoliberal Ruling System & US intervention
Structural reactionary violence and state repression are staple features of any neoliberal ruling system, such as the Philippine government. It is important to note how US intervention in the Philippines drives the country’s worsening human rights crisis. For 116 years, US military and economic dictates have been intervening in the country’s domestic affairs. As US intervention increases in the country, any neoliberal ruling system must impose a repressive state apparatus to suppress its critics in order to usher in a neoliberal agenda.
With the return of US military facilities in the country through the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), as well as the move to amend the Constitution via Charter Change to allow for the Philippines to enter into the negotiations of the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), the blatant re-occupation of the Philippines promises to unleash greater state repression and human rights abuses against the Filipino people.
Stand with Melissa Against US Imperialism
Despite her efforts in testifying before the Philippine court system, and filing complaints with the US State Department and United Nations wielding no results, Melissa courageously continues to tell her story because she knows it is the story of thousands of others who voices have been silenced.
Melissa speaks across the US, educating US taxpayers on how the US government spends tens of millions in military aid to fund the Philippine military, the same military that continues to perpetrate gross human rights abuses throughout the country.
BAYAN USA salutes Melissa Roxas for fighting and continuing to work towards genuine peace and respect for human rights in the Philippines through her commitment to the struggle against US imperialism. Until such time the Philippines is rid of foreign intervention over economic and political affairs and genuine national sovereignty is practiced, the Filipino people will never know peace and human rights. Let this be our framework as we stand with Melissa and all victims of human rights violations that continue the struggle for justice. Join BAYAN USA in a week-long action to raise awareness of Melissa’s case on a world-wide scale May 19-25th. Visit bayanusa.org for more details.
JUSTICE FOR MELISSA ROXAS & ALL VICTIMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS!
JUSTICE FOR ALL VICTIMS OF STATE-SPONSORED DISAPPEARANCES AND TORTURE!
END MILITARY AID TO THE PHILIPPINES!
END OPLAN BAYANIHAN!
NO TO TPPA & US PIVOT TO ASIA PACIFIC!
FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS NOW!
AQUINO: ABIDE BY THE CARHRIHL AND JASIG! PURSUE THE PEACE TALKS!
For more information and/or to support Melissa’s fight, visit JusticeforMelissa.org.