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Monthly Archives: June 2009

Repost:

ACT condemns killing of anti-chacha peasant leader

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers today denounced the killing of peasant leader Fermin Lorico in Dumaguete City yesterday.

Lorico was shot in the back of the head by unidentified gunmen soon after speaking at an anti-charter change rally at 4 p.m. yesterday. He was the leader of the Kahugpongan alang sa Ugma sa Gagmay’ng Mag-uuma sa Oriental Negros (Kaugmaon), a militant peasant group affiliated with the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP). Lorico was a national council member of the KMP.

In April, Lorico was in Manila to participate in the 54-day camp-out held by the KMP outside the Batasang Pambansa to push for the passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill.

“We denounce the assassination of Ka Fermin Lorico. We hold the Mrs. Gloria Arroyo and her government responsible for this horrendous act targeting a prominent critic of Malacañang, committed on the very day of nationwide protests against her administration’s move to change the Constitution. It shows once again that this regime will stop at nothing to maintain its hold on power,” said ACT national chairperson Antonio Tinio.

“Ka Fermin is a martyr of the peasants’ struggle for land as well as the people’s struggle against the establishment of an Arroyo dictatorship through Charter change. We call on all those opposed to Arroyo’s cha-cha to join us in demanding justice for Ka Fermin and all other victims of extrajudicial killings, disappearances, and torture under this regime,” he added.

Tinio pointed out that two national officers of ACT have also been victimized by extrajudicial killings in recent years, Vitoria Samonte of Surigao del Sur in 2005 and Napoleon Pornasdoro of Quezon in 2006. Their murderers have yet to be brought to justice. #

Goodbye, Ka Fermin

Fellow farmers and supporters pay tribute to slain peasant leader Ka Fermin Lorico as he was brought to his final resting place in Bayawan City, Oriental Negros, Saturday. “Ang pagkamatay sa isang bayani tulad ni Ka Fermin ay nagpapasiga ng sulo, isang libong sulo na lumiliyab sa bawat isa sa atin sa paghahanap ng katarungan at pagpapatuloy ng pakikibakang kanyang nasimulan,” Danilo “Ka Daning” Ramos, secretary-general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, tearfully said during Lorico’s tribute.
(Photo courtesy of Kaugmaon-KMP)
(Bulatlat.com)

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URGENT ACTION ALERT!
for California residents who care about human rights


EMAIL, FAX, AND/OR MAIL LETTERS TO SENATOR BARBARA BOXER TO ASK HER TO CUT US MILITARY AID TO THE PHILIPPINES AND REQUIRE THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT TO FULLY COMPLY WITH INVESTIGATIONS INTO THE CASE OF MELISSA ROXAS!

HELP ENSURE JUSTICE WILL BE SERVED FOR MELISSA ROXAS & ALL VICTIMS OF ABDUCTIONS AND TORTURE IN THE PHILIPPINES

The recent abduction, detention, and torture of a US citizen of Filipino descent, Melissa Roxas, is part of a violent epidemic of human rights violations plaguing the Philippines. There are thousands of documented cases of assassinations, kidnappings, torture, and other forms of human rights violations that have gone uninvestigated and therefore unresolved in the Philippines. As reported by United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings Philip Alston, in his 2007 report, evidence points to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as the main culprits behind these human rights violations, but they are protected by the Philippine government’s culture of impunity that allows them to roam free. The Philippine government denies any responsibility for and frequently attempts to cover up these human rights violations, as they are also attempting to do in the case of Melissa Roxas despite her sworn testimony about her experience.

The Philippines is one of the largest recipients of US military aid in Southeast Asia. This means US tax dollars are being used as resources by the AFP to continue to perpetrate these human rights violations against innocent civilians. As US taxpayers, we need to tell our government that we DO NOT want the blood of the Filipino people on our hands.

At present, the US Senate Appropriations Committee is in the process of shaping the next US military aid package to the Philippines, and could come out with a decision as early as mid-July. US Senator Barbara Boxer is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has influence on how our tax dollars are spent abroad. As our Senator, she has a responsibility to represent our concerns about how US military aid is being used to commit—and cover up—human rights atrocities in the Philippines, and to tell her colleagues in the Senate Appropriations Committee that we DO NOT WANT 1 CENT of our tax dollars going to the Philippine military.

On, June 19, a request was made of the office of Senator Patrick Leahy, who chairs the State & Foreign Operations Sub-Committee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, to include language into this year’s Senate Appropriations bill that would require the Philippine military to fully comply with the Writ of Amparo proceedings and any investigation into the case of Melissa Roxas. In the past, Senator Barbara Boxer has been supportive of the Filipino American community’s call to end the human rights violations in the Philippines. On June 22, Senator Boxer’s staff told concerned community members that Senator Boxer is very concerned, but would like to hear from more people in order to strengthen her case to the Senate.


We must write Senator Barbara Boxer TODAY and THIS WEEK, to tell her that we want her to make sure the Senate Appropriations Committee does not grant funds to the Philippine military and pressures the Philippine government to comply with investigations into Melissa Roxas’ case.

Below is sample text you can use for your letter to Senator Boxer. You can also draft your own language.

Thank you for responding to this action alert. If you have questions or would like more information, contact Rhonda Ramiro, BAYAN-USA, at secgen@bayanusa.org.

*************************
(SAMPLE LETTER)

Dear Senator Boxer:

The recent abduction, detainment, and torture of an American, Melissa Roxas, in the Philippines last May has me extremely concerned about the US government’s financial allocations to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Roxas, 31, is US citizen of Filipino descent and human rights advocate who was in the middle of a medical relief mission in La Paz, Tarlac, when she and her two companions– Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Jandoc– were kidnapped on May 19th, 2009. In a sworn statement, Roxas describes being abducted by approximately 15 armed men, thrown in a van, handcuffed and blindfolded for six days, and dragged from jail cell to jail cell. She recounts being subjected to torture via asphyxiation using a doubled-up plastic bag, repeated beatings to the face and body, and having her head banged repeatedly against the wall by her interrogators. She was denied legal counsel despite her persistent requests. Roxas was dropped off near her relative’s house around 6:30 AM on May 25 and warned not to go to Karapatan, the human rights alliance that handles cases like hers. Her captors left her with a SIM card and phone, which one of her interrogators used to contact her after she was released.

Today, fortunately, Roxas is back safe in her hometown of Los Angeles with her family. Credible sources, including Roxas herself, believe the detainment took place in nearby Fort Magsaysay, a military camp near the town Roxas and her companions were abducted.

As my US Senator and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I urge you to remember Melissa and all who have suffered the epidemic of torture, kidnappings, and unlawful detainment at the hands of the Philippine military. Please call Senator Leahy’s office to express your support for including specific language on Melissa’s case in the Senate Appropriations Bill. I am concerned that US military aid may be providing the “ammunition” (in both a literal and figurative sense) being used to pursue unarmed civilians whom the Arroyo administration has tagged as “Communists.”

I urge you to keep in mind my strong concerns regarding the lack of a full, impartial investigation into Melissa’s abduction and torture by the Philippine government. I urge you to impress on the US Senate and especially the Senate Appropriations Committee that I do not want one cent of my tax dollars going to the Philippine military, and that the Philippine military must fully cooperate with the Writ of Amparo proceedings as well any investigation by the Commission on Human Rights into the case of Melissa Roxas. I hope you will do everything in your power to ensure that the Philippine government cooperates to the fullest extent in resolving Melissa’s case and in stopping all human rights violations in the Philippines before any US aid is granted..


Senator Boxer, you are a leader in the Senate and a representative of the state where Melissa Roxas currently resides. Please be a voice of conscience and human rights when helping the Senate decide on the next US military aid package to the Philippines. In these tough economic times, many government budget choices are hard. This one shouldn’t be. Our hard-earned tax dollars should be used towards the betterment of society and for public service, not for human rights violations overseas. Please be the change America needs and help the Senate achieve this.

I hope to receive a response from you outlining your position on the human rights crisis in the Philippines and on the case of Melissa Roxas.

Sincerely,

Name
Organization (if any)
City, State

Dearest Friends,

The recent birth of my niece reminds me that life is something more than just presence, it is the earth rising inside of you, the earth that has been there since the beginning, but taking a different form.

I started to think about all the other babies I had seen as a community health worker in the Philippines before my niece was born. The marking of before and after, beginnings and endings. I remember their mothers taking them in for health screenings and basic check ups. Infants who went untreated for days with a fever, the softness in their eyes gives way to a hardness, their skin was tight from dehydration, they were so tiny, their hand in mine was as little as my thumbnail. I remember how much I wanted them to get better and be alive. With so many babies, children and families that I’ve met, I realized that the disease they had was more than an epidemic of typhoid fever, cholera, or malaria, it was the disease of poverty and oppression.

When I started to work more with particular issues of human rights violations I also met different babies, babies and children who had lost their mothers and fathers to a different death. A horrible and preventable death that takes the life not only of its victim, but robs the whole family and the world of their presence, all because they advocated and fought for a better world where their children have genuine freedom, a just peace, and true democracy.

Each day I was with the community, I learned how precious a birth can be, how to appreciate life, and I slowly began to understand what they meant when they whispered me their names and told their stories. There are no deaths that are forgotten, no fathers, no mothers, no sisters and brothers, aunts, uncles, or cousins that are forgotten. They live in the births of new babies each day.

When my own experience of abduction and torture ended and I was reunited with my family it was not a second birth for me, I realized that it is a continuing journey for the search for truth and justice. Repressive governments and military use torture as a form of control, to instill fear in people in debilitating ways, so they stay quiet and lose their light inside. But I realized no amount of pain or suffering or fear can stop that earth in me to keep rising. Instead it gave birth to new births. My experience has convinced me even more of the value of freedom and justice and the importance of fighting for and upholding the principles of human rights and human dignity.

Me being able to write this right now is testimony of how your collective love, support, prayers, and action is helping me and others like me through this experience. I know that your support is also part of a larger movement to create change towards a world free of poverty and oppression. Thank you to friends and family, family and friends of other desaparecidos, progressive people’s organizations, human rights groups, lawyers, civil rights advocates, church people’s organizations, concerned individuals, fellow poets and artists, and all believers in human rights and justice.

There are many more desaparecidos, more abductions, torture and extra-judicial killings going on in the Philippines and around the world. Let the new birth come where there is an end to all of the killings, abductions, and torture. Let the noise come from all directions—they are no longer whispers but shouts for justice.

Love,
Melissa Roxas

***

poster2b

RELATED LINKS

Affidavit
http://media.inquirer.net/inquirer/media/mraffidavit.pdf

Supreme Court petition for the Writ of Amparo
http://media.inquirer.net/inquirer/media/Petition-woa.pdf

American Woman Is Freed After Philippines Abduction – 05/25/2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/26/world/asia/26phils.html

Soldiers ‘Abducted, Tortured’ Fil-Am Activist – 06/02/2009
http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2009/06/02/soldiers-tortured-filipino-american-activist/

US-trained and funded Philippine military implicated in abduction and torture of American citizen: Alliance of Filipino American organizations vows to hold US and Philippine governments accountable and demands end to US taxpayer support for Philippine military – 06/02/2009
http://bayanusa.org/?p=234

Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights)
http://karapatan.org

Imagine that being denied enrollment at your high school due to military pressure, for 15 yr old, Phobe Kate Tubera because she is an activist, chairperson of the League of Filipino Students (LFS). The faculty told that she can enroll if she signs a waiver that prohibit her from organizing and leading protests.

Read more: Only 15, Student Confronts Military-Backed Political Repression in Quezon City School


Nestlé Philippines Inc. Nestlé S.A.
No. 31 Plaza Drive Avenue Nestlé 55
Rockwell Center 1800 Vevey, Switzerland
Makati City 1200 Philippines

International Labor Organizations (ILO) Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) 4 route des Morillons Muralla St. cor. Gen. Luna St., Intramuros
CH-1211 Genève 22, Switzerland 1002 Manila, Philippines

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines
SAAC Building, Commonwealth Avenue
UP Complex, Diliman, Quezon City

Petition-Appeal for Justice “Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits” Exodus 23:6

We, citizens of various nationalities and from different walks of life, have joined together to seek justice for the more than 600 employees of Nestle Cabuyao Philippines, Inc. who for over two decades now have been suffering human rights violations as they struggle for their right to collective bargaining (ILO Convention no.98).

The issue of retirement benefits is a valid issue in collective bargaining as decided by the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) in its resolution-order earlier and affirmed by the ruling of the Supreme Court in February 1991. The Supreme Court again ruled on the labor dispute on 22 August 2006 reaffirming the validity of its 1991 decision.

And on 26 March 2009, the final and executory decision is recorded in the Book of Entries of Judgment: the Nestle Management has been explicitly mandated to return to the negotiating table and resume Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiation with the Union, especially on the issue of retirement benefits.

The workers and their union launched on January 14, 2002 an arduous strike that has lasted up to the present because the Nestle Management continues to disregard the above rulings and directives and relevant international agreements.

“Nestlé uses all state instruments such as the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE), the MTC-Cabuyao (Municipal Trial Court) and RTC-Binan (Regional Trial Court), the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), with the blessings of a Philippine president who continuously clings to power …” (Nestlé abusing workers’ rights in the Philippines – and ignoring Supreme Court rulings, February 2009) http://www.nestlecritics.org/pdfs/nestlecabuyao0209.pdf

“Pres. Arroyo is betraying the people instead of defending the workers who have moral and just basis in their struggles. The Arroyo government likens the workers to criminals, drug lords, gambling lords and terrorists. It is like a rabid dog in kowtowing to the dictates of imperialist globalization and giant monopoly capitalists. Not contented, Arroyo further strengthened its iron hand rule by implementing the Calibrated Preemptive Response (CPR) on Sept. 21, 2005 to further repress the rights of the people.” (ibid)

“This repression has directly or indirectly resulted in 23 strike-related deaths, including union leader Diosdado “Ka Fort” Fortuna, who was assassinated on his way home from a picket line on September 22, 2005. His predecessor, Union president Meliton Roxas, was assassinated in front of the picket line on January 20, 1989, during the workers’ previous strike involving the same issue. To date, not a single perpetrator has been apprehended for these murders.“ (ibid)

The represssion and oppression and other forms of violence perpetrated against the striking Nestle Cabuyao workers continue, the latest manifestation of which being the arrest and detention of Noel Alemania, the acting Union of Filipro Employees (UFE) President.

We, the undersigned demand:
Recognize the right of UFE to collective bargaining (ILO Convention no.98) especially the right to negotiate for their retirement benefits!
Stop the other repression / oppression and other forms of violence perpetrated against the striking Nestle Cabuyao workers!

We call on
a) the Nestle Management to return to the negotiating table and resume CBA negotiation with the Union, especially on the issue of retirement benefits
b) the Philippines government thru the Department of Labor and Employment to mediate and/ or conciliate the labor dispute
c) the International Labor organization (ILO) to take cognizance of the labor dispute, and
d) the United Nations Commission on HR to send representative(s) to the Philippines and/or ask the Commission on Human Rights in the Philippines to conduct a thorough investigation of the human rights violations i.e., killing of Diosdado “Fort” Fortuna, and other related human rights issues.

SIGN OUR PETITION http://pinas-first.com/petition/

7-42-karensherlyn

On June 26. 20006, two University of the Philippines Karen Empeño, Sherlyn Cadapan and Manuel Marino, were abducted by unidentifible men while doing research in a farm community of Hagony, Bulacan.

When I was in the Philippines in November of 2007,  I met Erlinda Cadapan (Karen’s mother) while going to a viewing  of the Batasan bombing victim 54 yr old driver, Marcial Taldo, for Gabriela Partylist Representative Luz Ilangan. Connie narrated  how the Raymund Manalo and his brother escaped from their capturers and have attested of meeting Sherlyn and Karen while they were in Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Camp Tecson in San Miguel, Bulacan.

Manalo testified that Karen told him that she was being molested and raped by army personel who used the names Mickey, Donald and Billy. Manlo described the details of what the three men looked like.

Erlinda went on to add that Manalo stated they were all transfered to the 24th Infantry Battalion (IB) camp in Limay, Bataan where the two women  were tortured, taunted, touched and had wooden sticks inserted inside their sex organs.

Manuel was said  to have witnessed the murder of two suspected realtives of New People’s Army (NPA) guerillas.

Manalo said that he last saw the two women after they were taken to the forrest and when they returned the next morning the two women were no longer sited.

Next week in the Philippines there will be a week of commemoration for Sherlyn and Karen…..

Huling-Balita-2

In light of the third year anniversary of the involuntary disappearance of UP students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan on June 26,2006, the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines(SCMP), University Student Council UP Diliman(USC-UPD), Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP(STAND-UP), and Kabataan Partylist, will be conducting week long activities to commemorate their bravery and steadfastness. The schedule of activities are as follows:

From June 23-26, there will be a photo exhibit featuring updates,photo and video documentary of Karen and She at the Gallery I, Faculty Center, UP Diliman.

On June 23, an ecumenical mass will be held at the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice in UP Diliman from 6:00-7:00PM

On June 24, there will be a forum, in coordination with the UP Faculty, on the current human rights situation in the Philippines at CM Recto Hall, Faculty Center, UP Diliman, fron 1:00-3:00PM

On June 26, there will be a free concert for peace and freedom entitled: HULING BALITA 2 from 4pm-12am. This will be held at the UP Sunken Garden and will feature popular acts and homegrown UP bands such as Brownman Revival, Giniling Festival, Datu’s Tribe, The Wuds, The Jerks, and the UP Repertory Company.

ANNA TEJERO
Student Christian Movement of the Philippines-UP Diliman Chapter
09156885716

MILITARY’S LAWYERS TOLD

‘Prove Fil-Am activist’s kidnap is staged’

By Tetch Torres
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:51:00 06/18/2009

MANILA, Philippines—(UPDATE) The Court of Appeals on Thursday ordered government lawyers to prove the military’s allegation that the abduction of Filipino-American activist Melissa Roxas was staged to smear the integrity of the military, which claimed that its troops were at that time busy helping victims of Typhoon “Emong.”

“Who said that the abduction was stage-managed? Is that part of the report of the military?” Associate Justice Noel Tijam asked the government lawyers.

The appeals court gave the Office of the Solicitor General 10 days to give them a copy of the military’s findings.

Members of the appeals court also did not compel victim and petitioner Melissa Roxas to appear before them. They said she could do so only if she wants to.

“We understand her situation,” the court said.

At the same time, the appellate court ordered counsel of petitioner Rex Fernandez to produce the doctors who examined Roxas.

The military, particularly the Army’s 701st Infantry Brigade which has jurisdiction of the area where Roxas was abducted, maintained that no abduction occurred because its troops were busy helping victims of typhoon “Emong” at the time.

According to news reports, the military believed that the abduction was stage-managed to put the blame on them despite doing a good job of maintaining peace in Central Luzon.

Roxas is a member of Bayan-USA, the overseas chapter of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan. She was abducted by armed men in La Paz, Tarlac last May 19 and surfaced six days later.

The appellate court’s 16th Division presided by Justice Tijam also directed Juanito Carabeo, 51 and John Edward Jandoc, 16 to appear in court to corroborate Roxas’ allegation.

While Roxas was released on May 24 and Carabeo the following day, Jandoc has not surfaced to this day.

Her abductors continued to communicate with her through a SIM card that they have given her prompting her to file the writ of amparo.

Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes Jr. said, “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.”

“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 said.

Meanwhile, Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Leila De Lima personally went to the Court of Appeals to witness the proceedings on the amparo filed by Roxas.

De Lima said her office will conduct a separate investigation to determine those responsible for the abduction.

In her petition for a writ of amparo, Roxas named as respondents President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Victor Ibrado, national police chief Jesus Verzosa, Army commanding general Lieutenant General Delfin Bangit;

Philippine National Police-Region 3 Regional Director Chief Superintendent Leon Nilo De la Cruz, Army 7th Infantry Division chief Major General Ralph Villanueva, Tarlac Police director Senior Supt. Rudy Gamido Lacadin, and three others identified only as Dex, RC and Rose, who are believed to be military intelligence agents.

With reports from Dona Pazzibugan, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Ariz. home invasion suspects tied to border group

Two of three people arrested in a southern Arizona home invasion that

left a little girl and her father dead had connections to a Washington

state anti-illegal immigration group that conducts border watch

activities in Arizona.

Jason Eugene Bush, 34, Shawna Forde, 41, and Albert Robert Gaxiola,

42, have been charged with two counts each of first-degree murder and

other charges, said Sheriff Clarence Dupnik of Pima County, Ariz.

The trio are alleged to have dressed as law enforcement officers and

forced their way into a home about 10 miles north of the Mexican

border in rural Arivaca on May 30, wounding a woman and fatally

shooting her husband and their 9-year-old daughter.

Their motive was financial, Dupnik said.

“The husband who was murdered has a history of being involved in

narcotics and there was an anticipation that there would be a

considerable amount of cash at this location as well as the

possibility of drugs,” Dupnik said.

Forde is the leader of Minutemen American Defense, a small border

watch group, and Bush goes by the nickname “Gunny” and is its

operations director, according to the group’s Web site.

She is from Everett, Wash., has recently been living in Arizona and

was once associated with the better known and larger Minuteman Civil

Defense Corps.

A statement attributed to officers of Forde’s group and posted on its

Web site on Saturday extended condolences to the victims’ families and

said the group doesn’t condone such acts and will cooperate with law

enforcement.

“This is not what Minutemen do,” said member Chuck Stonex, who

responded to an e-mail from The Associated Press sent through the Web

site. “Minutemen observe, document and report. This is nothing more

than a cold-hearted criminal act, and that is all we want to say.”

The assailants planned to leave no one alive, Dupnik said at a press

conference in Tucson on Friday. He said Forde was the ringleader.

“This was a planned home invasion where the plan was to kill all the

people inside this trailer so there would be no witnesses,” Dupnik

said. “To just kill a 9-year-old girl because she might be a potential

witness to me is just one of the most despicable acts that I have

heard of.”

Dupnik said Forde continued working through Friday to raise a large

amount of money to make her anti-illegal immigrant operation more

sophisticated.

Forde denied involvement as she was led from sheriff’s headquarters.

“No, I did not do it,” she said. “I had nothing to do with it.”

Gaxiola also denied involvement; Bush was arrested at a Kingman,

Ariz., hospital where he was being treated for a leg wound he

allegedly received when the woman who survived the attack managed to

get a gun and fire back.

Killed were 9-year-old Brisenia Flores and her 29-year-old father,

Raul Junior Flores. The name of the wounded woman who survived the

attack hasn’t been released.

Forde is well known in the anti-illegal immigration community, said

Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and

Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino.

“She’s someone who even within the anti-immigration movement has been

labeled as unstable,” Levin said. “She was basically forced out of

another anti-immigrant group, the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, and

then founded her own organization.”

Stonex, of Alamagordo, N.M., said he met Forde while on an Arizona

border watch operation last fall, and liked her despite her reputation

in the Minutemen community.

“I know she’s always had sort of a checkered past but I take people

for what I see and not what I hear,” the 57-year-old said.

She recruited him to start a new chapter in New Mexico, but was

secretive about her group or its members.

Stonex said he didn’t know how to recruit for a chapter and never did.

He said Forde called him on the day of the attack while he was

visiting Arizona and asked him to bring bandages to an Arivaca home

because Bush had been wounded.

Stonex said it appeared Bush had a relatively minor gunshot wound,

which he treated.

He said Forde and Bush told him Bush been wounded by a smuggler who

shot at him while the group were patrolling the desert.

Stonex said he didn’t suspect that might not be the case until was

contacted by a deputy on Saturday about their alleged involvement in

the crime.

reference: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090613/ap_on_re_us/us_fatal_home_invasion

Here is more updates on the Melissa Roxas  situation via ABS/CBN

Click here to see article:

http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/06/10/09/fil-am-activists-abduction-raises-howl-washington

WASHINGTON D.C. – The alleged detention and torture of Fil-Am activist Melissa Roxas is fueling efforts by militant groups to again catch the eye of US lawmakers on human rights abuses back home.

“People get kidnapped and just because they’re Filipino-Americans, their country of origin feels some right to kidnap, even to abuse them. The reality is they are Americans,” Congressman Jim Moran (8th District, Virginia) told a largely Fil-Am crowd last Sunday.

Moran is a 10-term congressman for a district that encompasses Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church – home to a large Fil-Am constituency. He was the principal guest at the People’s Ball, which traditionally kicks off the series of Philippine Independence Day celebrations in the American capital.

After his speech, Moran told ABS-CBN’s Balitang America that he views Roxas as “an American just like my daughter is an American.”

“The Philippine government or military or paramilitary, whoever it was that abducted her, committed a crime. She is an American citizen and I sure hope for their sake that they have not harmed her,” he said.

Roxas, 31, a member of Bayan USA was abducted last May 19 in Lapaz, Tarlac.

In her petition before the Philippine Supreme Court, Roxas said she was kidnapped by suspected paramilitaries and brought to a military camp in Nueva Ecija where she was interrogated and tortured for six days on suspicions that she was a communist rebel.

She said she was only released after she convinced her captors that she would return to the folds of the law.

Roxas has gone home to Los Angeles, California after her ordeal in the Philippines, according to lawyer Arnedo Valera. He said Roxas has been traumatized after undergoing “physical and psychological torture” from her captors.

Roxas will undergo a more through medical and psychological examination, to determine if she was sexually assaulted as well. “She said there were times when she could no longer take it and she lost consciousness,” Valera said.

He said Roxas identified herself as an American citizen, adding she was on a research and writing assignment. Her abductors accused her of being a communist insurgent.

“I have never seen this kind of treatment to an American citizen, even during the time of Marcos,” Valera said.

He revealed they will file a complaint with the United Nations, ask the Special UN Rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak to investigate the Roxas case, file a complaint with the State Department against the Philippine government, and fie a case with a US federal district court under the Alien Tort Law.

Under the Alien Tort Law, US federal courts are given “original jurisdiction” for any suit filed by a foreigner for violation of the law of nations – especially human rights violations.

Valera said he has spoken with Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, urging his cooperation.

“There is an obligation that the culprits, because the victim is a US citizen, can be brought over here for trial under the Convention Against Torture,” Valera said.

Rights crisis

Last Saturday, a different group convened an “emergency summit” on the growing human rights crisis in the Philippines at the Methodist Building, right across the US Congress.

“We organized the summit in response to what we perceive as a resurgence of political killings and other human rights abuses in the Philippines,” explained Katrina Abarcar, coordinator for the group Katarungan.

The group said it is urging US Congress to set their sights anew to abuses in the Philippines. “This is like a first step to what you might call building bridges or stronger partnerships, between groups working on human rights that have for the most part worked independently of each other,” she said.

Militant groups are closing ranks with American churches, labor and civil liberty groups that have seen many of their leaders, members and friends fall victim to extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

“We want to educate the American people, Congress, the Obama administration. It’s good this summit was organized so we can see the impact of killings in the Philippines, which are now felt here,” said Jon Melegrito, a leader of the influential National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA).

Melegrito worked for Filipino World War II veterans equity and was active in the political campaigns of both State Secretary Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama last year.

“I am a Methodist, a church that is very committed to social justice. And the churches, not only the Methodists, the UCCP, Episcopalians, Lutherans and even the Catholic Church all have a commitment to social justice especially for the oppressed,” he said.

Human rights groups said over 800 union leaders, peasant organizers, churchmen and journalists have been killed under the administration of President Arroyo. The government has claimed only about 400 of these were politically-motivated murders.

“As far as the church is concerned, they are all part of God’s children. And if God’s children are being exploited, repressed and killed, then it’s against our religious upbringing. So the sponsorship and promotion of the church for human rights is just natural,” Melegrito said.

In March 2007, human rights groups submitted a report on the extrajudicial killings at a hearing chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer in March 2007. Not surprisingly, the State Department has alluded to a “culture of impunity” that allow abuses to continue.

Battle of perceptions

The Arroyo administration has worked hard to counter hardening perceptions, organizing a national summit in July 2007 to discuss extrajudicial killings.

Malacanang also launched a counter-lobby on Capitol Hill, dispatching top Philippine police officials to speak with lawmakers willing to listen.

It seemed to work – the Arroyo administration managed to convince senators to restore US military aid for 2008 – the Filipino militants’ main target – to $30 million, about two-thirds more than what the State Department suggested.

But the release of $2 million is predicated on the Philippine government meeting certain human rights criteria, particularly compliance with the Ralston Report.

Lawyer Brian Campbell of the International Labor Rights Forum told the summit audience that the money has not been released. He added that as far as he knows, the State Department has not yet submitted a certification to the US Senate that the Philippines has complied with the conditions.

“This all started the grassroots level. It started with people in Minnesota calling their congressman, people in California calling their senator, telling them ‘There’s a problem here and these are our families that’s being impacted’ and it’s time to raise this issue,” Campbell said.

“That resulted in the hearings chaired by Sen. Boxer which then led to human rights conditions on part of the military aid,” he explained.

Campbell acknowledged “little, systemic changes” implemented by the Arroyo administration to address human rights problems, but stressed the need for continuing pressure. The group is trying to convince lawmakers to tie future aid for the Philippines – economic and military – to improving human rights conditions.

Congressman Moran is an early supporter of the move. “There should be a direct link between military aid to a country and the way that country treats its own people and its neighbors.

“If a military is going to try to act with impunity whether it be in the Philippines, Indonesia, any other nation whether in Asia, Africa or South America, they should not be receiving military assistance because military assistance is meant to be used to further American values,” Moran told Balitang America.

Raising the ante vs violators

“If somebody has been tortured, it doesn’t matter if they’re in the United States or in their home country, if the US courts can get jurisdiction over the torturer, then they can bring a law suit here,” Campbell said.

He added that the Philippines already has first-hand experience with this legal avenue when human rights victims won a class suit against the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Campbell said that while winning compensation may be difficult, there are other sanctions to be imposed on human rights violators.

“Those torturers cannot come to the United States, they cannot go to Las Vegas to watch Manny Pacquiao fight. They can not do it because then they will be subject to the jurisdiction of US courts,” he said.

Fil-Am activist’s abduction raises howl in Washington


By RODNEY J. JALECO, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau | 06/10/2009 11:28 AM

WASHINGTON D.C. – The alleged detention and torture of Fil-Am activist Melissa Roxas is fueling efforts by militant groups to again catch the eye of US lawmakers on human rights abuses back home.

“People get kidnapped and just because they’re Filipino-Americans, their country of origin feels some right to kidnap, even to abuse them. The reality is they are Americans,” Congressman Jim Moran (8th District, Virginia) told a largely Fil-Am crowd last Sunday.

Moran is a 10-term congressman for a district that encompasses Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church – home to a large Fil-Am constituency.  He was the principal guest at the People’s Ball, which traditionally kicks off the series of Philippine Independence Day celebrations in the American capital.

After his speech, Moran told ABS-CBN’s Balitang America that he views Roxas as “an American just like my daughter is an American.”

“The Philippine government or military or paramilitary, whoever it was that abducted her, committed a crime. She is an American citizen and I sure hope for their sake that they have not harmed her,” he said.

Roxas, 31, a member of Bayan USA was abducted last May 19 in Lapaz, Tarlac.

In her petition before the Philippine Supreme Court, Roxas said she was kidnapped by suspected paramilitaries and brought to a military camp in Nueva Ecija where she was interrogated and tortured for six days on suspicions that she was a communist rebel.

She said she was only released after she convinced her captors that she would return to the folds of the law.

Roxas has gone home to Los Angeles, California after her ordeal in the Philippines, according to lawyer Arnedo Valera. He said Roxas has been traumatized after undergoing “physical and psychological torture” from her captors.

Roxas will undergo a more through medical and psychological examination, to determine if she was sexually assaulted as well. “She said there were times when she could no longer take it and she lost consciousness,” Valera said.

He said Roxas identified herself as an American citizen, adding she was on a research and writing assignment. Her abductors accused her of being a communist insurgent.

“I have never seen this kind of treatment to an American citizen, even during the time of Marcos,” Valera said.

He revealed they will file a complaint with the United Nations, ask the Special UN Rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak to investigate the Roxas case, file a complaint with the State Department against the Philippine government, and fie a case with a US federal district court under the Alien Tort Law.

Under the Alien Tort Law, US federal courts are given “original jurisdiction” for any suit filed by a foreigner for violation of the law of nations – especially human rights violations.

Valera said he has spoken with Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, urging his cooperation.

“There is an obligation that the culprits, because the victim is a US citizen, can be brought over here for trial under the Convention Against Torture,” Valera said.

Rights crisis

Last Saturday, a different group convened an “emergency summit” on the growing human rights crisis in the Philippines at the Methodist Building, right across the US Congress.

“We organized the summit in response to what we perceive as a resurgence of political killings and other human rights abuses in the Philippines,” explained Katrina Abarcar, coordinator for the group Katarungan.

The group said it is urging US Congress to set their sights anew to abuses in the Philippines. “This is like a first step to what you might call building bridges or stronger partnerships, between groups working on human rights that have for the most part worked independently of each other,” she said.

Militant groups are closing ranks with American churches, labor and civil liberty groups that have seen many of their leaders, members and friends fall victim to extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

“We want to educate the American people, Congress, the Obama administration. It’s good this summit was organized so we can see the impact of killings in the Philippines, which are now felt here,” said Jon Melegrito, a leader of the influential National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA).

Melegrito worked for Filipino World War II veterans equity and was active in the political campaigns of both State Secretary Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama last year.

“I am a Methodist, a church that is very committed to social justice. And the churches, not only the Methodists, the UCCP, Episcopalians, Lutherans and even the Catholic Church all have a commitment to social justice especially for the oppressed,” he said.

Human rights groups said over 800 union leaders, peasant organizers, churchmen and journalists have been killed under the administration of President Arroyo. The government has claimed only about 400 of these were politically-motivated murders.

“As far as the church is concerned, they are all part of God’s children. And if God’s children are being exploited, repressed and killed, then it’s against our religious upbringing. So the sponsorship and promotion of the church for human rights is just natural,” Melegrito said.

In March 2007, human rights groups submitted a report on the extrajudicial killings at a hearing chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer in March 2007. Not surprisingly, the State Department has alluded to a “culture of impunity” that allow abuses to continue.

Battle of perceptions

The Arroyo administration has worked hard to counter hardening perceptions, organizing a national summit in July 2007 to discuss extrajudicial killings.

Malacanang also launched a counter-lobby on Capitol Hill, dispatching top Philippine police officials to speak with lawmakers willing to listen.

It seemed to work – the Arroyo administration managed to convince senators to restore US military aid for 2008 – the Filipino militants’ main target – to $30 million, about two-thirds more than what the State Department suggested.

But the release of $2 million is predicated on the Philippine government meeting certain human rights criteria, particularly compliance with the Ralston Report.

Lawyer Brian Campbell of the International Labor Rights Forum told the summit audience that the money has not been released. He added that as far as he knows, the State Department has not yet submitted a certification to the US Senate that the Philippines has complied with the conditions.

“This all started the grassroots level. It started with people in Minnesota calling their congressman, people in California calling their senator, telling them ‘There’s a problem here and these are our families that’s being impacted’ and it’s time to raise this issue,” Campbell said.

“That resulted in the hearings chaired by Sen. Boxer which then led to human rights conditions on part of the military aid,” he explained.

Campbell acknowledged “little, systemic changes” implemented by the Arroyo administration to address human rights problems, but stressed the need for continuing pressure. The group is trying to convince lawmakers to tie future aid for the Philippines – economic and military – to improving human rights conditions.

Congressman Moran is an early supporter of the move. “There should be a direct link between military aid to a country and the way that country treats its own people and its neighbors.

“If a military is going to try to act with impunity whether it be in the Philippines, Indonesia, any other nation whether in Asia, Africa or South America, they should not be receiving military assistance because military assistance is meant to be used to further American values,” Moran told Balitang America.

Raising the ante vs violators

“If somebody has been tortured, it doesn’t matter if they’re in the United States or in their home country, if the US courts can get jurisdiction over the torturer, then they can bring a law suit here,” Campbell said.

He added that the Philippines already has first-hand experience with this legal avenue when human rights victims won a class suit against the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Campbell said that while winning compensation may be difficult, there are other sanctions to be imposed on human rights violators.

“Those torturers cannot come to the United States, they cannot go to Las Vegas to watch Manny Pacquiao fight. They can not do it because then they will be subject to the jurisdiction of US courts,” he said.

as of 06/10/2009 11:31 AM