BAYAN Philippines

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan doubts the Malacanang probe into the abduction of Filipino-American activist Melissa Roxas will lead anywhere. Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita recently ordered the Department of Defense to investigate the abduction.

“It’s a sham. The Palace is likely reeling from intense public criticism of its human rights record, especially now that the victim is an American citizen. The probe is intended to show that the Arroyo government is doing something,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“The truth is, Malacanang, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Office of the Solicitor General all deny the abduction took place. They are all saying that the incident was stage-managed or fabricated,” Reyes said.

Bayan cited the May 27 statement from the Presidential Commission on Human Rights chaired by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita saying that the abduction of Roxas was a fabrication and that there were no police reports on the matter. The PHRC statement completely ignored a report by the La Paz police in Tarlac that three people were abducted on May 19.

Bayan also cited the persistent line of the AFP and the Sol-Gen saying that the abduction was stage-managed to embarrass the Arroyo government. A lawyer from the Sol-Gen, Bernardo Villar, affirmed this during the hearing of the Court of Appeals last June 29. Villar even went on to say that the emotional Roxas’ Los Angeles press con was all drama because “she came from an arts group and that was probably part of her training.”

“How can there be a credible probe called by Malacanang when all these officials keep denying that the abduction and torture took place. Ermita, the AFP and the Solicitor General have all prejudged Roxas because they were desperately trying to repair their already tarnished image. The Arroyo government doesn’t care about human rights,” Reyes said.

Bayan said that an independent probe by the Commission on Human Rights and the House and Senate Human Rights Committee may be more credible than the Malacanang probe. The CHR is chaired by lawyer Leila de Lima, who recently toured Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, the suspected location where Roxas was believed to have been held for six days. The House Human Rights committee is chaired by Rep. Erin Tanada who recently spoke with Roxas in the US. The Senate Human Rights Committee is chaired by Sen. Francis Escudero.

Bayan called on Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro to order the AFP to shut up and stop claiming that the abduction was a fabrication. “How can Secretary Teodoro claim to have an impartial investigation when the AFP spokesman Lt. Col. Brawner and other officials keeps spinning the lie that the abduction was stage-managed. Teodoro should at least order Brawner to shut up while the so-called DND probe is ongoing,” Reyes said.

“The DND under Teodoro has not undertaken any satisfactory and credible investigation on any human rights issue. We will not be surprised if the AFP is exonerated from the abduction of Roxas,” he added.

Reyes said that the Office of the Solicitor General’s Bernardo Villar should also be sacked for his uncalled for remarks against Roxas and for his insistence that the abduction was stage-managed. ###