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Tag Archives: Abductions

By Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change

First 100 days agenda: GMA, Luisita, human rights abuses. With the presidential elections now over save for the official proclamation of Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, we ask what is perhaps the same question in the mind of most Filipinos today: what can our forlorn people expect from an Aquino presidency?

The first 100 days of the Aquino administration will be crucial. This period will reveal and set the tone on the priorities of the new government as well as demonstrate the intent, if not ability, of Aquino to address the injustices that our people have long been suffering.

Thus, for the first 100 days of Aquino as President, we strongly believe that he must make considerable headway in resolving three of the gravest injustices that we face: the plunder perpetrated by Mrs. Gloria Arroyo and her cohorts; social injustice such as at the Hacienda Luisita; and the extrajudicial killings, abductions, and other human rights violations under the brutal Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) military campaign of the Arroyo administration.

By depicting himself as the bearer of genuine change, indeed as the anti-thesis of Arroyo, Aquino has raised people’s expectations of his administration. Invoking the legacy of his parents, the martyred Ninoy Aquino and former President Cory, it is reasonable to ask for tangible steps in his first three months – when and how will he investigate and prosecute Mrs. Arroyo and her cohorts in crime?

As president who claims to have the high moral ground compared to other presidentiables, how will he pro-actively ensure that the Cojuanco-Aquino clan will give up Hacienda Luisita in favor of the poor peasants and farm workers? What will he do with regard to the case of the Morong 43, Jonas Burgos, and many other victims of human rights violation under Arroyo? What will he do to make the likes of Gen. Jovito Palparan accountable for his bloody crimes against the people? Will he dismantle the oppressive Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) 2 or will he embark on an OBL 3 or similar “Internal Security Plan” that tramples on constitutionally-guaranteed rights in the name of so-called national security?

Aquino built his successful bid for the presidency on a strong advocacy against Arroyo and all that her administration represents, encapsulized in his political ads enticing Filipino voters to take the “daang matuwid” (righteous path) with him. Many Filipinos, disgruntled by nine years of grand scale corruption, abuses, and poverty under the despised Arroyo presidency, responded to his call and gave him a strong mandate to lead.

However, while corruption aggravates the people’s poverty and suffering, the basic premise of Aquino’s advocacy – that corruption is the root cause of poverty (“kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap”) – must be challenged. This premise glosses over the fundamental truth that poverty is bred by age-old unjust social structures strengthened through the years by anti-people economic policies allowing a few to monopolize society’s wealth.

Such situation is clearly illustrated, for instance, at the Hacienda Luisita. Poverty will not be solved without substantial reforms in these structures and policies, e.g. genuine agrarian reform that will truly distribute vast landholdings like Hacienda Luisita to farmers and farm workers, as Pagbabago! articulated in our People’s Agenda.

The time for mere rhetoric about change and justice is now over. We who come from people’s organizations, sectoral formations and non-government organizations, who have long been fighting for genuine reforms in the country’s misshapen and undemocratic political and economic system, want to see whether Aquino’s “daang matuwid” will lead to redemption or greater perdition.

source: http://kodao.org/blog/contributor/noynoy-must-show-what-%E2%80%9Cdaang-matuwid%E2%80%9D-concretely-means

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ANAKBAYAN (Sons and Daughters of the People)
For Immediate Release
September 13, 2009
SURFACE NORIEL RODRIGUEZ!
Justice for victims of enforced disappearances!
ANAKBAYAN condemns in the strongest possible terms the recent abduction of Noriel Rodriguez in Cagayan by elements of the fascist Arroyo regime. This incident proves yet again the policy of the Arroyo regime of employing extra-judicial means to silence progressive individuals whose only advocacy is the advancement of people’s welfare.
Noriel Rodriguez, 26 years old, was forcibly abducted by suspected elements of the 17th Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army stationed at San Jose, Gonzalo, Cagayan last September 7, 2009. According to initial reports gathered by KARAPATAN-Cagayan, Noriel was taken at gun-point by four armed men in civilian clothes at around 5:00 p.m. Monday in Sitio Sta. Isabel, Barangay Tapel, Gonzaga, Cagayan.
We demand the leadership of the Philippine Army, particularly the 17th IB-PA, to immediately surface and release Noriel Rodriguez. We demand accountability from the Arroyo regime for this atrocity.
We are furthermore outraged by the fact that he has been missing for nearly a week as of today. And with the military’s despicable record of enforced disappearances, time is of the essence. Habang tumatagal na walang impormasyon sa kinalalagyan ni Noriel, mas lalong nalalagay sa panganib ang kanyang buhay, at gayundin ang iba pa namin kasamahan.
Rodriguez is an active member of ANAKBAYAN-National Capital Region and regularly joins in ANAKBAYAN’s annual integration program with the peasant and workers. He helped in the organizing of peasant communities in Cagayan through the KAGIMUNGAN peasant group.
This incident is nothing new. In 2006, elements of the Philippine Army also abducted activists Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan. Despite overwhelming evidence proving the military’s role in their disappearances, they are still missing up to now.
The list of desaparacidos will continue as long as the fascist Arroyo regime uses force to protect her self-interests.
But we will not cower in fear. Instead, we will continue our search for our missing comrades. Hahalughugin namin ang bawat kampo at bawat instalasyon ng militar hanggang hindi namin nakikita ang aming mga kasamahan. Magpoprotesta kami sa harap ng Malacanang hanggang hindi nakakamit ang hustisya.
Once again, we reiterate our call to the military to immediately surface and release Noriel Rodriguez! We call on our fellow Filipino youth to help in extracting accountability for the Arroyo government. We demand justice, not just for Noriel, but for all victims of enforced disappearances and political repression!
==========

Student Christian Movement of the Philippines

NCCP Compound,  879 Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines

Mobile Number 09289526973                              e-mail: scmpinas@gmail.com

CONVENOR: TANGGULAN Youth Network for Civil Liberties and Human Rights

Press Statement

September  13, 2009

Reference: Ma. Cristina Guevarra, Chairperson (09186106275)

Call to surface and release Noriel Rodriquez from the hands of 17th Infantry Brigade

The Student Christian Movement of the Philippines calls for the immediate surfacing of Noriel Rodriguez, 26 years old, and a member of Anakbayan who was reportedly abducted by suspected elements of 17thIBPA stationed at San Jose, Gonzaga, Cagayan on September 7.

According to initial reports gathered by KARAPATAN-Cagayan, Noriel was taken at gun-point by four armed men in plainclothes at around 5:00 p.m. Monday in Sitio Sta. Isabel, Barangay Tapel, Gonzaga, Cagayan while he was aboard a tricycle.

We condemn this atrocious act by the security forces under the baton of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Arroyo has been presiding over the numerous enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings in the country. According to KARAPATAN there are 207 victims of enforced disappearance as of June this year and not one of the perpetrators had been prosecuted even in the cases of Manalo brothers and Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan whose military captors were clearly identified.

Rodriguez is an active member of ANAKBAYAN-National Capital Region and regularly joined in ANAKBAYAN’s annual basic masses integration program with the farmers. He helped in the organizing of peasant communities in Cagayan and joined the KAGIMUNGAN peasant group there.

It is outrageous that these young people who give their time and efforts in worthwhile service to their communities especially among the marginalized, are the ones victimized.

We hold accountable the Arroyo government and demand the immediate surfacing of Noriel by his captors. We join the calls of Noriel’s family and demand the 17th Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army not to harm Noriel and immediately release him unconditionally.

We challenge the military to open its detachments, which often becomes a detention place of many of our missing friends and fellow activists.

Surface and release Noriel now! We continue our call for justice to all the victims of state terrorism under Arroyo regime!

####

Press Statement
July 31, 2009

References:
Katrina Abarcar, Katarungan: Center for Peace, Justice, and Human Rights in the Philippines, email: katarungan@comcast.net;
Peter Arvin Jabido, NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), email: nychrp@gmail.com

Filipino-American Rights Groups Disappointed in Obama for Standing with Leader on Wrong Side of History

See Related Photos:
http://www.katarungan-dc.org/gma-white-house-visit-picket-and-vigil/

US-based rights groups are registering disappointment over the outcome of US President Barack Obama’s meeting with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines yesterday at the White House.

“Yesterday, Obama shook hands with a leader who stands on the wrong side of history,” states Gary Labao of the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), a New York City-based human rights advocacy organization. “Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo fits the description of one who clings to power though deceit, corruption, and the silencing of dissent to a tee.”

A few hours before Arroyo’s arrival on the White House driveway, DC-rights group Katarungan: Center for Peace, Justice, and Human Rights in the Philippines and the Columban Center for Outreach and Advocacy sponsored a prayer vigil for the victims of extrajudicial killings and abductions by the Philippine military in front of the White House gate. Other sponsors of the vigil included the Ecumenical Advocacy Network for the Philippines, the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church-USA Washington DC Office, the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries, the Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ, the International Labor Rights Forum, and NYCHRP.

Members of NYCHRP, Anakbayan NY/NJ, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment, and Sandiwa Fil-Am Youth Alliance traveled from New York to join the vigil, in which around 50 advocates stood in a circle in front of the White House gates and renewed their call for US Congress to cut a greater amount of US military aid to the Philippines and tag greater human rights conditions. Also discussed was the case of Melissa Roxas, an American abducted and tortured in the Philippines last May. It is widely-believed that Roxas was taken by elements of the 7th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) based in Central Luzon.

Katrina Abarcar of Katarungan spoke on Roxas’ behalf and reiterated the words from a statement of Roxas, who is currently in the Philippines testifying against the Philippine military– “I can no longer count how many times I have narrated the incident and my ordeal. But I will not tire to tell the truth about what happened for I seek justice, not only for myself, but for others who have gone through the same. I seek justice, not only for what they did to me, but for other victims of human rights violations.”

Arroyo’s White House Arrival Met with Protest

After the vigil, the rights groups staged a protest in front of the White House gates in anticipation of Arroyo’s arrival.
Chanting “Gloria Tuta, Diktador Pasista!” (Gloria, Puppet! Fascist Dictator!) and “Inutang na Dugo, Singilin, Siniglin, Pagbayarin!” (Blood Debt, Payback Now!) and “Gloria, Don’t Lie to Me. Torture Don’t Make Democracy!”, as Arroyo’s car entourage drove into the White House driveway, protestors marched to and straddled the White House front gate with banners and signs reading “Justice for Melissa Roxas!” and “Obama: Say to No to Torture! Say No to Arroyo!”

During the 45-minute meeting between Obama and Arroyo, the groups stayed outside the White House holding picket-protest, explaining to tourists and passersby the state of unequal relations between the US and the Philippines, and why more Americans should demand that US Congress withdraw all forms of support to the Arroyo government.

Prior to the meeting, US human rights advocates were pushing for Obama to include raising the case of Roxas and human rights with Arroyo in person.

No Public Mention of Roxas or Human Rights in the Philippines

But the subsequent post-meeting press conference did not indicate whether or not the issues of Roxas or Arroyo’s human rights track record were raised behind closed doors. Instead, the only reference to human rights was Obama’s praise for Arroyo’s so-called efforts to address the human rights situation in Burma, as well as eagerness to work with the Arroyo government by appointing the Philippines as the coordinator of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), an economic organization of countries in the region framed to promote economic, social, and cultural progress.

“We assume his silence means he is more committed to continuing Bush’s foreign policy on the Philippines, which includes maintaining and even increasing US troop presence on the island nation, and using the Arroyo government as a proxy to uphold US economic and political interests in the region,” Abarcar said. “So much for standing ‘against torture wherever it takes place.’ ”

Arroyo critics continued with the picket until Arroyo’s departure, in which the chanting resumed until the car entourage was off the White House premises.

Katarungan and NYCHRP, along with other US-based groups and churches, have been actively lobbying the members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to cut a greater portion of US military aid to the Philippines. They expect a final decision on the 2010 military aid package released by September.

###

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 26, 2009

Contact: Rhonda Ramiro, 415-377-2599, secgen@bayanusa.org

U.S. CITIZEN ABDUCTED AND TORTURED BY SUSPECTED PHILIPPINE MILITARY AGENTS TO SPEAK PUBLICLY FOR FIRST TIME

U.N. Day in Support of Torture Victims Marked with Press Conference by Torture Survivor Melissa Roxas

What: Press Conference of Melissa Roxas, recent victim of abduction and torture

When: Saturday, June 27, 2009

Time: 4-5:30 PM

Where: Echo Park United Methodist Church

1226 N. Alvarado St.

Los Angeles, CA 90026

Live Web Stream: www.bayan.ph

LOS ANGELES, CA – In her first public appearance since being released from captivity, Melissa Roxas, a U.S. citizen abducted and tortured in the Philippines from May 19-25, will hold a press conference to describe the human rights abuses she endured while held for six days in an alleged military camp. Ms. Roxas, an American human rights advocate of Filipino descent, is the first known American citizen to have become a victim of abduction and torture in the Philippines, a country which has drawn international condemnation for state-sponsored human rights atrocities.

In a sworn affidavit submitted to the Philippine Supreme Court, Ms. Roxas described being abducted at gunpoint by several heavily armed men, brought to what she believed is a military camp, held against her will, questioned without the presence of an attorney, beaten repeatedly, and asphyxiated using plastic bags before being released. During the press conference, Ms. Roxas is expected to demand accountability from the Philippine government and military, who she holds responsible for her ordeal, as well as the U.S. government for providing funding and training to the Philippine military. Reports by the United Nations, Amnesty International, Philippine-based human rights organization Karapatan, and Human Rights Watch have overwhelmingly concluded that the Philippine military is responsible for systematically carrying out human rights violations such as abduction, torture and extra-judicial killings against innocent civilians. Nearly $1 billion worth of U.S. military aid and materiel has been granted to the Philippines since 1999, the year the U.S.- Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement was enacted.

The experience of Ms. Roxas is considered typical for the 200 cases of abduction and 1,010 cases of torture recorded since Gloria Macapagal Arroyo became president of the Philippines in 2001. The Philippine government’s quick denial of responsibility for Ms. Roxas’ abduction and torture is also considered a typical response; in his 2007 report on the Philippines, U.N. Special Rapporteur Philip Alston cited such systematic denial by the government as one of the primary obstacles to stopping the rampant human rights violations plaguing the country. In his 2009 follow-up report, Alston indicated a general failure of the Arroyo government to stop the persistent human rights violations. In April 2009, the UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) also released a report detailing the use of torture by the Philippine military.

At the press conference, Ms. Roxas’ legal counsel, Attorney Arnedo Valera, will explain the potential legal remedies that are being explored, including the filing of a tort action in U.S. Federal Court for punitive and compensatory damages against her identified assailants or the Arroyo government in the absence of named assailants; the lodging of a private complaint before the U.S. Department of State, Human Rights Desk against the Philippine government for the violation of the fundamental rights of a U.S. citizen; and the filing of a complaints before the appropriate U.N. agencies for violations of the International Covenant Against Torture, the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights.

The press conference will be held in Los Angeles, CA and broadcast live on the website www.bayan.ph. Media in the Philippines will be hosted simultaneously by Bayan Philippines and will be able to ask questions in real time. The U.S.-based press conference is sponsored by the Justice for Melissa Roxas Campaign, whose membership includes Ms. Roxas’ legal counsel, BAYAN-USA, GABRIELA USA, Katarungan Center for Peace, Justice and Human Rights, and the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns. ###

For those who have missed the live feed of Melissa’s Press Conference here are the recorded videos:

**URGENT ACTION ALERT!**
* STAND AGAINST TORTURE ON JUNE 26, THE UN INTERNATIONAL DAY IN SUPPORT OF VICTIMS OF TORTURE


SIGN THE EMERGENCY ONLINE PETITION


*ASK THE US APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE TO CUT US MILITARY AID TO THE PHILIPPINES AND TO REQUIRE THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT TO FULLY COMPLY WITH INVESTIGATIONS INTO THE CASE OF MELISSA ROXAS!


June 26 is the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, a particularly significant day for those of us concerned about the continued use of this criminal act worldwide. Most recently, a US citizen of Filipino descent has fallen victim to this cruel and degrading act in the Philippines.
Her case is one of thousands of documented cases of torture, assassinations, kidnappings, and other forms of human rights violations that have gone uninvestigated and unresolved in the Philippines. Just last month the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) expressed grave concern at the routine, widespread, and unpunished use of torture by military, police, and other state officials in their country report on the Philippines. As reported by United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings Philip Alston, in his 2007 report, although credible evidence points to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as the main culprits behind these human rights violations, they are protected by the Philippine government’s culture of impunity which 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. Our Senators and Representatives have an influence on how our tax dollars are spent abroad. They have 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 express our desire that NOT 1 CENT of our tax dollars support human rights violations in the Philippines.
In addition, a request has been made of the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee Patrick Leahy to introduce language into this year’s Appropriations bill that would require the Philippine military to full comply with the Writ of Amparo proceedings and any investigation into the case of Melissa Roxas. Please call your Senator/Representative to express your support for a thorough and impartial investigation into Melissa Roxas’ case.
SIGN THE EMERGENCY ONLINE PETITION
Below is a sample text you can use as an email, phone script, or fax to your member of Congress. You can also draft your own language.
*************************
(SAMPLE TEXT)
Dear Member of the US Appropriations Committee,
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 Senator or Representative, 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. 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 support for a full, impartial investigation into Melissa’s abduction and torture by the Philippine government. I urge you to impress on the US Congress and especially the House and Senate Appropriations Committee that you belong to that *I do not want one cent of my tax dollars going to human rights abuses in the Philippines, 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.
As my US Senator/Representative, I urge you to raise your voice on my behalf. Please be a voice of conscience and human rights when your committee and Congress as a whole decides 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 Congress 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,

—–
SIGN THE EMERGENCY ONLINE PETITION

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

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

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.

For Immediate Release

June 8, 2009

Reference: Katrina Abarcar, Coordinator, Katarungan: Center for Peace, Justice, and Human Rights in the Philippines, email: katarungan@comcast.net

DC Summit Unites Human Rights Advocates for Greater Cooperation for the Philippines

Washington DC—Representatives from key institutions, networks, and organizations spanning the country convened at the United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill last Saturday for an Emergency Human Rights Summit on the Philippines. Sponsored by Katarungan: Center for Peace, Justice, and Human Rights in the Philippines, the successful summit brought together advocates from California, Illinois, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and Washington, DC for a one-day meeting on the human rights situation in the Philippines and ended with a high unity amongst the participants to share resources and collaborate on initiatives. (A full list of co-sponsors can be found below.)

“This is not a summit in the traditional sense, meaning a meeting of government heads,” stated Katarungan Coordinator Katrina Abarcar at the opening of the summit. “This is a summoning of the people to come up with solutions to a problem that government heads have refused to address in a meaningful way.”

Human Rights Crisis in the Philippines and Tactics for US-based Advocacy

The day started with presentations offered by Dulphing Ogan, Secretary-General of Kalumaran, an alliance of indigenous peoples in Mindanao in the Southern Philippines, who spoke of the reality of killings, abductions, and militarization in resource-rich Mindanao, where multi-national corporations engage in mining for natural resources such as gold and oil and other forms of “development aggression” that lead to the massive displacement of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who live there.

“The War in Mindanao is not about religion, it’s about Mindanao’s rich resources. Only the big corporations have benefited,” Ogan explained. “Filipinos who choose to resist the multinational monopolization of resources are the ones that are killed.”

Another presentation by Dr. Kenneth Bauzon, a professor from St. Joseph’s College, linked the current Arroyo counter-insurgency operation known as Oplan Bantay Laya to the historical role of the US government and the CIA to crafting covert low-intensity conflicts in Southeast Asia, beginning with a presentation of CIA memos from the 1960s-70s on Operation Phoenix in Vietnam. In his presentation, Bauzon exposed the CIA’s rationale in crafting of operations to train Vietnamese nationals to assassinate other Vietnamese rather than US operatives conducting the killings themselves. This same pattern is applied to the situation in the Philippines today.

Reverend Goel Bagundol of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), Northwest Mindanao Jurisdiction spoke of his experience working with members of the church victimized by political repression in the Philippines. Lastly, lawyer Brian Campbell of the International Labor Rights Forum spoke of ways US-based advocates could engage all three branches of the US government in effecting the human rights situation in the Philippines.

Summit participants included Tim and Linda McGloin of the Ecumenical Advocacy Network on the Philippines (EANP), who shared their experiences pressuring for the 2007 US Senate hearing on the Philippines that led to human rights conditions tied to a portion of the subsequent US military aid package to the Arroyo government by the US Appropriations Committee. Representatives from the New York and San Francisco Committees for Human Rights in the Philippines (CHRP) and National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) spoke of working amongst the overseas Filipino community in the US, whose dollar remittances keep the Philippine economy afloat, to educate and mobilize them for the cause of human rights in their home country. While Derek Duncan of the Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ spoke of collaborations between US and Philippine Churches to respond to the killings of pastors and other clergy in the Philippines.

A Call to Unite for the Philippines

DC participant Elizabeth Palmberg, Ph.D, who shared tips for media strategies during the summit, stated, “I’m appalled by the torture and killings of pastors and other nonviolent people – and, as a U.S. taxpayer, I’m deeply angry to see U.S. government aid go to the very Philippine armed forces which have innocent blood on their hands. I’m glad to see so many groups starting to network and come together in the U.S. to help make a difference.”

A presentation by Reverend Marma Urbano, a minister of the UCCP currently helping in the National Association of Filipino-American United Methodists’ (NAFAUM) Paglago program, proposed a national US framework for greater cooperation between US-based advocates working for the Philippines. The framework was unanimously approved and areas of collaboration were identified by the summit participants. One proposed collaboration was the formation of a US delegation that would participate in the 2010 Philippine elections’ International Observers’ Mission. An ad-hoc committee was also formed at the end of the summit to propose the mechanics of coordinating future efforts of the participants and co-sponsoring organizations.

Bagundol shared his thoughts on diversity of the summit’s participants, “We are different springs who came together to become one stream! We are now one big stream that can be seen, can be heard, and can make a change!”

The summit comes at a critical time with the recent release of United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings Philip Alston’s follow-up report on the Philippines in Geneva which confirms the failure of the Arroyo government to decisively stop the killings and abductions in the Philippines, the release of the UN Committee Against Torture’s report on the Philippines confirming the military’s usage of torture, and the May 19th abduction and subsequent torture of Filipino-American human rights advocate Melissa Roxas in the Philippines.

Meetings of the US Appropriations Committee deciding on next military aid package to the Philippines are also nearing their close. In response, the participants vowed to coordinate actions to educate and mobilize constituents to tighten human rights conditions and reduce aid amounts for foreign military assistance to the Philippines.

The full of list of co-sponsors for the Summit includes: the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, the Ecumenical Advocacy Network-Philippines, the Episcopal Church, the Fellowship of Filipino Migrants of Chicago, the Filipino Ministry-Diocese of San Bernadino, the Friends of the Filipino People, the Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ, the Holy Child and St. Martin Episcopal Church in Daly City, the International Labor Rights Forum, the Migrant Heritage Commission, the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, the National Association of Filipino-American United Methodists, the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, the Philippine Independent Church-Diocese of USA and Canada, the Portland Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, the San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, Share Foundation: Building a New El Salvador Today, the United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministreis, USAPAN: USA-Philippines Ecumenical Advocacy Network, the US Committee for the Protection of Workers’ Rights, and the Philippine Partnership Committee-Presbyterian Church USA.

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