BAYAN Philippines

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and the human rights group Karapatan believe that there is sufficient evidence to point out the military’s involvement in the abduction of Filipino-American activist and Bayan USA member Melissa Roxas and her two Filipino companions Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc. Roxas and company were abducted by bonnet-wearing armed men last May 19. She was surfaced on May 25 after news broke out that she had been abducted.

The Court of Appeals’ Special Division 16 under Judge Noel Tijam set a hearing today on Roxas petition for a writ of amparo and writ of habeas data. Roxas is represented in the amparo petition by human rights lawyer Rex Fernandez.

“Roxas has a detailed accounting of what happened during her detention in what we believe to be was a military camp. She also retained the handcuffs and blindfold that were used on her,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“A plain denial of the incident by the Arroyo government is not acceptable. To this day we have not heard anything from the Arroyo administration, from the Department of Defense or from the Armed Forces of the Philippines regarding their so-called investigations into the abduction. The Ermita-led Presidential Commission on Human Rights had gone on to say that the abduction was a fabrication designed to embarrass the government,” Reyes added.

Marie Enriquez, secretary general of Karapatan said that Roxas is in the United States and recovering from the trauma caused by her abduction and torture. She will be joining US-based groups in campaigning for justice on her case.

“In time, we hope Melissa can personally speak on the matter. The amparo case remains important since Melissa hopes to one day return to the Philippines. It is also important that those who abducted her are identified and eventually made accountable,” Enriquez said.

Roxas and Bayan-USA, the US-based Katarungan and the National Alliance on Filipino Concerns (Nafcon) are consulting with US lawyers on the possibility of filing a case in a US court or in treaty bodies of the United Nations.

“All means of making the perpetrators accountable are being explored right now. This is going to be a long fight. So long as Mrs. Arroyo remains in power, her government will do everything to cover up the incident and avoid any criminal liability,” Reyes said.

A protest action is set on June 26 to mark the United Nations Day Against Torture to highlight the case of Roxas and other torture victims in the Philippines. A counterpart protest in the US is also being readied. ###