Reference: Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson, BAYAN USA
Filipino-Americans, Supporters Across US Stand With Melissa Roxas
BAYAN-USA Statement on the 2nd Year Anniversary of the Abduction and Torture of Founding Member
On the second year anniversary of the abduction and torture of Filipina-American human rights advocate Melissa Roxas by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Filipino-Americans under the banner of BAYAN USA and supporters across the United States reaffirm our support for Melissa and commitment to the pursuit of justice by way of demanding for an ongoing investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators.
The recent Commission on Human Rights (CHR) resolution absolving the AFP on the abduction at gunpoint that took place on May 19, 2009, while Melissa and two of her companions were conducting a community survey in preparation of a rural medical mission in La Paz, Tarlac lines up with the current Aquino administration’s overall cover-up of the crimes and human rights atrocities committed by its predecessor– Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. On July 2009, Melissa returned to the Philippines to testify in front of the CHR the details of her ordeal, under the protection of former chairperson Leila de Lima, while the latter gathered corroborating evidence as the result of an ocular investigation of nearby Fort Magsaysay, headquarters of the 7th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, pointing to the culpability of the Philippine military.
It must be noted that shortly after assuming the office of presidency, Aquino appointed rabid red-baiter Etta Rosales to replace de Lima as the chair of the CHR, casting a questionable light on the integrity of the office to be objective and credible in handling cases of regular abuses committed against legal activists and dissidents associated with the aboveground Philippine Left. As a former House Representative of the party-list Akbayan, Rosales participated in McCarthyist tactics along with fellow Akbayan Representative Walden Bello to blur the distinct lines between the unarmed, aboveground left and the armed underground left, resulting in the wholesale targeting of legal civilian activists in the bloody counter-insurgency campaign of the Arroyo government known as Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL). In line with this, even a US citizen such as Melissa, who was volunteering for a medical mission for a poor community, was not exempt from being subjected to 6 days of heavy torture by her captors who attempted to force her to admit that she was a member of the New Peoples Army (NPA), which she refused to do.
Despite campaign promises to investigate and prosecute the wrongdoings of the Arroyo administration, the Aquino government has coddled known human rights abusers in the Arroyo administration. Not one from the over 1,200 cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances under Arroyo’s counter-insurgency campaign OBL has seen an arrest nor a trial. Instead, the same pattern continues under Aquino’s version Oplan Bayanihan, which additionally purports so-called community development in the most marginalized areas of the Philippines as the unabated killings of unarmed civilian legal activists continue.
As an alliance of 14 Filipino organizations across the US, of which Melissa was a founding member back in 2005, BAYAN USA has lost confidence in the integrity of the justice system in the Philippines to resolve Melissa’s case. Sadly the Aquino administration, like the Arroyo administration, has amply proven its platform of lawlessness and non-interest in putting a leash on the mercenary-character of the Philippine military, one of the largest beneficiaries of US military aid in Asia.
As Melissa continues to tell her story to listeners across the United States, a real peoples movement is growing in support of Melissa. This includes seeking justice by way of international venues and particularly the court system in the United States, which set a precedent when it ruled in favor of the thousands of victims of human rights abuses under the dictatorship of the former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos.This also includes building the movement in the US to cut US tax dollar support to the Philippine military.
Now that she is no longer protected by sovereign immunity under the presidential office, the time is ripe to arrest and prosecute Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her ilk for similar crimes against humanity. BAYAN USA will stand with Melissa and all other victims of human rights abuses in the Philippines for however long it takes for justice to be served.
Justice for Melissa Roxas!
Prosecute Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo!
Justice for All Victims of Human Rights Violations in the Philippines!
Scrap Oplan Bayanihan!
Stop US Military Aid to Philippine Death Squads!