Contact: Kuusela Hilo
Justice for Melissa Roxas Campaign

While the recent ruling by the Philippine Court of Appeals (CA) in favor of Melissa Roxas’ petition for a Writ of Amparo and Writ of Habeus Data affirms Roxas’ testimony to her May abduction and torture while illegally detained as the truth, justice remains delayed, and at worst obstructed, with the CA’s denial of an inspection of Fort Magsaysay and clearing of the Arroyo government and military as respondents.


A cornerstone of the Justice for Melissa Roxas Campaign, a broad movement of international supporters of Melissa Roxas, is the fact that Roxas was abducted and tortured and as a victim of a human rights violation, Roxas is in need of rehabilitation from the physical and psychological trauma caused by her ordeal. The CA ruling in favor of Roxas’s petition not only affirms these points, it vindicates Roxas herself. Since her brave initiation of the pursuit of justice, Roxas has been the target of a ruthless and relentless vilification campaign launched by Arroyo loyalists in Congress Jun Alcover and Jovito Palparan. The CA ruling not only proves that their psywar efforts against Roxas have been futile, it reprimands such efforts and calls for its immediate end.

With this portion of the ruling, the other legal and political measures the Justice For Melissa Roxas Campaign is taking in the international front gain considerable headway, as the CA has confirmed that Roxas’ testimony is “credible and worthy of belief”. We see this as an impetus for the broad international support for Melissa Roxas to expand and grow stronger.

Justice Delayed is Justice Denied

Another cornerstone of the Justice for Melissa Roxas Campaign is that justice be sought to the full extent of the law, including investigation, arrest and prosecution of Roxas abductors and torturers. Therefore, we take issue with the CA’s ruling to deny Roxas’ petition for an investigation of Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija and discharge of the petition’s respondents — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Victor Ibrado, and Army Chief Lt. General Delfin Bangit — based on a so-called failure to prove the principle of command responsibility. This part of the CA’s decision makes no sense in lieu of the previous legal developments and growing political isolation surrounding the Arroyo government and the Philippine military.

Last July, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) of the Philippines, an independent office mandated by the Constitution of the Philippines, conducted its own investigation into Roxas’ case, including an ocular inspection of Fort Magsaysay. In probing the Philippine military’s role, CHR Chair Leila de Lima confirmed that the physicality of the Philippine military camp was a match to Roxas’ description of her detention facility while blindfolded. De Lima even testified, alongside Roxas, before the Philippine Congress days prior to the Philippine Supreme Court’s hearing on Roxas’ petition.

Roxas’ petition notwithstanding, a glaring precedent has also been set confirming the Philippine military’s culpability in the worsening pattern of gross human rights violations in the Philippines with the official country reports released by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings Philip Alston and the United Nations Committee Against Torture.

That the CA ruled Roxas’ belief that it was the Philippine military responsible for her abduction last May 19th and six-day detention while undergoing torture as “unfounded” is unacceptable, and hints of impunity for Roxas’ torturers. In this regard, portions of the CA ruling also pose a setback to the pursuit of complete justice for Melissa Roxas.

Support for Roxas Grows

Widespread support for Melissa Roxas remains strong and continues to grow. Melissa Roxas’ legal team, and her base of support, are not set back in pursuing complete justice to the full extent of the law. The gains of the CHR’s efforts and portions of the CA’s ruling must be advanced, beginning with the release of the CHR’s findings from its own investigation. The CA’s affirmation of Roxas’ credibility will certainly advance the campaign’s efforts to seek justice through international courts.

The strengthening of Melissa Roxas’ campaign for justice will further isolate the Arroyo government and its military. One thing is for sure, if the CA’s denial of inspection and discharge of respondents leads Roxas’ captors to heave a sigh of relief, they should think again. ###