I would like to thank everyone for being here this afternoon.

It has been a very difficult time for me and my family and I would like to thank everyone who has give us their love, help, and support during this time.

I was in the Philippines for an exposure program doing volunteer work in the community and also doing research for my writing project. I was in La Paz, Tarlac conducting health surveys in the community for a future medical mission.

On May 19, 2009, about 1:30 in the afternoon, I and my two companions, John Edward Jandoc and Juanito Carabeo, heard a banging on the front door and a voice asking that the door be opened. About 15 men in civilian clothes armed with high power rifles and wearing ski masks, some of them had bonnets on to cover their faces, surrounding the house. I was surprised and very scared. They forcibly opened the door and the armed men went into the house coming from the front and the back door and ordered us to drop face flat on the ground, but I kept trying to stand up and asking why are they doing this but they pushed me to the ground.

I then started to shout my name, repeating it again and again, I was punched repeatedly at my right rib cage. They tried to tape my mouth but I kept taking it off, saying my name over and over again. I saw that my two companions were already blindfolded and taped at the mouth and were being taken to a blue van. I was trying to stop the armed men from putting me into the van and they instead started to drag me bruising and wounding my arms and my legs, severely wounding my left knee cap.

I didn’t want to get in that van, I put my feet on the side of the doors but the men forced me inside. and they blindfolded and handcuffed to the back. But they could not tape my mouth because I was already retching and throwing up.

We traveled for more than an hour in the van and when we stopped they separated us and I didn’t know where they took my other two companions.

The first couple of days I was held in a jail cell with iron bars. When I was made to lie down on a wooden bed without a mattress with my head positioned near the iron bars.

They didn’t feed me during the first day and the second day they did not feed me until at night. The whole time throughout my abduction, I was blindfolded and handcuffed, except when they made me take a bath. At first they had me handcuffed in the back but later put the handcuffs in front because my hands were severely cut and bruised.

During my days in the jail cell, I heard construction activities–blowtorching, hammering and construction. I also heard gun firing like a firing range and planes taking off and landing and it was loud and I could also hear goats.

I was never left alone, there were always men watching me. I was constantly interrogated and during the interrogations they would ask me repeatedly if I knew why I was there and I WAS TOLD BY THEM that I was abducted because I was a member of the CPP NPA. I also repeatedly told them that I have rights and that I demanded for my lawyer. I told them I was just a writer and a volunteer.

They told me that even if a year passes, I would see no lawyer. That there I had no rights.

They told me repeatedly that it was because of people like me who are costing the government so much money.

They said people like me are the ones who are making it difficult for the government.

Then they threatened me and beat me.

I remember when two men entered my cell, and one of them, who they called “Tatay”, pulled my handcuffs, raising me so that I was sitting, then he punched me

then a thumb was pressed to my throat choking me…

he was saying “huh!…huh…huh.”

then he struck me again on my left jaw and I heard ringing in my ears.

They said that I was hard headed and that I better answer their questions…

They kept repeating the questions.

Before they left I heard the man say they should just shoot me.

So I could not sleep the rest of the time and I kept waiting because I knew they would come back and I prepared for the worst;

And they came back hours later

and they asked me “Are you ready to die”

and they said before they kill people they make them pee and shit from the pain before they die.

and they dragged me out of the cell.

All I could do was tell them I had rights and I wanted to see a lawyer, but he kept beating me.

At one point they banged the back of my head repeatedly on the wall behind me and I remember seeing flashes of white light. And he kept punching me. Every time I would fall the other men would hold me and force me up.

Then they held my feet and my hands down and they put two plastic bags and put it over my head and around my neck,

I started to suffocate and I could not breath anymore and I was seeing white and thinking I was going to die and then he released the hold

After that happened, there were more interrogations almost non-stop, and more threats.

During my abduction and torture I knew it was the military that had me because they kept accusing me of being CPP/ NPA and tried to make me sign some documents but I refused. I kept telling them I was a writer and that I was a health care volunteer.

I also heard people being addressed as “Sir” and answering to orders with “Yes Sir.”

One of the interrogators, RC said they merely tools of God for making rebels return to the fold and I told him that my God does not torture people. He then told me that the people who abducted and tortured me were part of the S.O.G, the Special Operations Group.

I also heard gun firing, like a firing range, and planes taking off and landing. Also a lot of construction. When I asked Rose what the construction was, she said it was construction in the camp to build more walls, make the walls higher in the camp.

Early morning on May 25th the military dropped me off at my house in Quezon City. I was still very distraught and fearful that they would come back for me. Even after I was at my house with my uncle, they called me again on the phone and I was very afraid and fearful for my safety.

The military said something bad would happen if I said anything to anyone. They especially did not want me to talk with Karapatan. I was very fearful and that is why I wanted to go home to the United States as soon as possible and seek safety and reunite with my family there.

It was very hard to talk about what happened because of the emotional and psychological effects of my abduction and torture. After it happened, I did not want to leave the house at all and it was very hard for me to go even outside of the room. I was also still very weak physically because of my wounds.

Although it is still very difficult to talk about the incident, I wanted to tell the truth about what happened to me. Because I don’t want what happened to me, to happen to anybody else ever again. I want the world to know what happened because the Philippine government and military should not get away with what they did to me, to Juanito, to John Edward. And they cannot get away with what they did to many other people. Because there are still families looking for their loved ones, and there are many more still missing.

I plan on pursuing the case for as long as it takes to seek justice for what they did to me.

I am asking the American people and the Filipino people, and all believers of truth and justice to help me, and help the victims of human rights violations to get justice.

It has to end. The killings, the enforced disappearances, the abductions, and the torture have to end.

Every day since my abduction and torture the nightmares of what happened often return to me and talking about that experience is like going back again to that dark place, but knowing that I spoke the truth about what happened keeps that deep sea of injustice, silence, and fear from drowning me… and instead I get to keep that bit of light inside.