BAYAN Philippines

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) today welcomed news from the Commission on Human Rights that Filipino American activist Melissa Roxas is set to return to the Philippines.

Roxas, a member of Bayan USA, was abducted last May 19 along with two other volunteers in La Paz, Tarlac. She recounts that during her captivity, she was blindfolded, handcuffed and tortured. She was later surfaced on May 25. She has filed a petition for a writ of amparo before the Court of Appeals.

“Roxas’ return shows a serious intent to pursue her case. She is determined to seek justice for the human rights abuses committed against her and her companions Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc. She will face head on the denials made by the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“We hail her courage in returning to the Philippines. Her determination to prove that she was abducted and tortured should put to rest claims by the military that the whole thing was fabricated,” Reyes added.

Roxas will arrive in the country on July 20 accompanied by the California-Nevada Conference of the United Methodist Church from the US. The church delegation is in the country for a human rights fact-finding mission. This is the same church group that campaigned against extrajudicial killings and lobbied the US Senate in 2007.

The Court of Appeals has set a hearing for Roxas’ writ of amparo on July 30. Roxas was required by the court to appear otherwise her case would be archived. Roxas went to the US after her release to reunite with her family and to recover from the trauma she suffered from her ordeal.

This is also the same day President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is set to meet US president Barack Obama.

The Officeof the Solicitor General and the Armed Forces of the Philippines have gone on to say that the abduction never took place or that it was “stage-managed” to embarras the government.

“Melissa would be the best person to refute the lies of the Arroyo government. Her testimony wil be important, especially now that killings and abductions are on the rise again just a year before the elections. Despite domestic and international criticism, the killings and disappearances continue,” Reyes said.

“Her testimony should also send a warning to the US government that its unqualified support for the Arroyo government has resulted in human rights violations, including one involving an American citizen,” he added. ###