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Tag Archives: Bagong Alyansang Makabayan


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Dr. Alex Montes and patient
We need money for healthcare and education! So why is the US sending over $30 million taxpayer dollars each year to arrest, jail and torture health care workers and other innocent civilians in the Philippines?

Every year, the US sends tens of millions of dollars in military aid to the Philippines–and it’s added up to a whopping $1 billion US taxpayer dollars since 1999.  What has been the result? Record-high numbers of human rights violations have been committed against innocent civilians, including: 1,118 killings  • 1,026 cases of torture • 204 forced disappearances • 1,983 illegal arrests. Who is perpetrating these human rights violations?  Reports by the United Nations, Amnesty International, and KARAPATAN all conclude that the Philippine military, police and paramilitary units are the perpetrators, and are targeting pastors, teachers, union leaders, students, lawyers, journalists, healthcare workers, artists and others whose only “crime” is voicing criticism of the government for neglecting and exploiting the Filipino people. They are being arrested, tortured and killed for doing what the government should be doing–serving the poor and oppressed.

The arrest, detention and torture of 43 healthcare workers is the latest outrageous case of human rights abuse. On Saturday, Feb. 6, the Philippine military and police used a bogus search warrant to raid a First Responders healthcare skills training in Rizal, where they violently arrested and jailed 43 community healthcare workers, including two renowned doctors, a nurse, and midwives. The military has inflicted physical and psychological torture on the healthcare workers, including: sleep deprivation, prolonged tactical interrogation with death threats, 36+ hours of being blindfolded and handcuffed, solitary confinement, and denial of legal counsel and medical treatment.  The health workers are still being held in jail on trumped up charges of being rebels, and the military has even defied a Supreme Court order to produce the 43 health workers at a court hearing.

The 43 health workers and doctors were undergoing health training to serve the vast majority of Filipino people who do not have access to healthcare. They should be treated like heroes!  But instead, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her military are persecuting them.

You can help.  Join the growing movement of grassroots organizations, churches, individuals, and labor organizations and unions such as the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), National Nurses United (NNU), and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to demand the release of the 43 healthcare workers.

Sign the petition at http://www.PetitionOnline.com/Free43/petition.html so you can
1.    Tell Congress and the Obama administration to end all US military aid to the Philippines. No US tax dollars for torture!
2.    Tell President Arroyo to Free the 43 health care workers and end all human rights violations being committed by her military.

For more info: www.bayan.ph/freethe43.php or http://freethehealthworkers.blogspot.com or www.bayanusa.org.

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Press Statement

December 5, 2009

Statement on the declaration of Martial Law in Maguindanao

The declaration of a state of Martial Law in Maguindanao sets a most dangerous precedent for the nation. Not since September 21, 1972 has there been any declaration of Martial Law, not even during the years of tumult under the Aquino, Estrada and, prior to this, the Arroyo regime. For the first time since 1972, the writ of habeas corpus has been suspended in an area in the Philippines.

We reiterate our call for justice for the victims of the Ampatuan Massacre but we cannot support measures that are both dangerous and questionable.

The alleged purpose of Proclamation 1959 is the arrest of the Ampatuan family members who are implicated in the November 23 Ampatuan, Maguindanao massacre. The regime justifies the declaration in saying that civilian institutions, especially the courts, are no longer functioning and that the dispensation of justice would not be possible.

The Constitution says Martial Law can only be declared during an invasion or during a rebellion. The failure of civilian government institutions, as in the case of the local government offices and courts in Maguindanao, cannot be used as a pretext for declaring Martial Law. The difficulty of gathering evidence, securing warrants and enforcing arrests also cannot be used as a basis for the declaration.

We demand the lifting of Martial Law in Maguindanao and the restoration of the civilian government institutions. Martial Law cannot solve the problem of state-sponsored warlordism and violence in the province. Martial Law will always lead to abuses because those implementing it, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, have very poor human rights records.

The national government must endeavor to restore the civilian administrative and judicial institutions in the province.

If Mrs. Arroyo refuses to lift the declaration, we call on Congress to exercise its powers to revoke Martial Law. Mrs. Arroyo is required by the Constitution to report to Congress within 48 hours. It falls on Congress, though dominated by Arroyo loyalists, to revoke this dangerous declaration. We must not wait for the maximum 60-day period allowed by the Constitution for the enforcement of martial rule. The leaders of the Lower House and Senate must convene within 24 hours to address this issue.

That Martial Law has been declared in a province less than six months before the national elections raises fresh fears that similar scenarios can also follow, thus severely undermining the conduct of the 2010 polls to benefit the incumbent president. We must not allow this scenario to be replicated in other regions for whatever pretexts. If Arroyo can declare martial law for reasons not defined in the constitution, imagine what she can do before the 2010 elections.

The Arroyo regime and its police and military have to be made accountable for its role in arming the Ampatuan family. The recently discovered arms cache in the Ampatuan residence shows the complicity of the AFP, PNP and the regime in supplying weapons to the local warlords. With this kind of track record, how do you trust the AFP and PNP with the vast powers of Martial rule? This kind of corruption and complicity cannot be solved by the declaration of Martial rule. l

We have learned the bitter lessons of Martial Law even as we are acutely aware of the propensity for abuse by the current regime. As we continue to demand justice for the victims of the Ampatuan massacre, we call on the public to remain vigilant at this time against possible abuses on civilians that may stem from this declaration. ###
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!

####

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.

http://globalnation.inquirer.net/news/news/view/20090609-209590/SC_grants_writ_of_amparo_to_Fil-Am_activist

By Tetch Torres

INQUIRER.net

Posted date: June 09, 2009

MANILA, Philippines—Filipino-American activist Melissa Roxas, who was abducted for six days, is a step closer to getting court protection after the Supreme Court on Tuesday granted her appeal for a writ of amparo.

Finding basis for her appeal, the high tribunal also ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines to respond to Roxas’s petition, Supreme Court spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said.

The high court likewise ordered the Court of Appeals to immediately conduct a hearing on the case.

Roxas, who is back in the States but who is planning to come back and whose relatives remain in the country, is a member of Bayan-USA, the overseas chapter of the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.Abducted by armed men in La Paz, Tarlac last May 19, she surfaced six days later.

While in captivity, she said she was blindfolded and handcuffed in what she suspects was a military camp in Nueva Ecija, possibly Fort Magsaysay, headquarters of the 7th Infantry Division, which is a short distance from where she was abducted.

She concluded that it was a military camp due to the sounds of gun-firing, hammering, and planes taking off and landing.

She said her abductors told her that she was a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army.

Upon her release, she was given a SIM card through which her abductors said they would communicate with her. Her abductors also warned her to be wary of Karapatan because the group will tell her to go against them. Her abductors dropped her off a few feet from her relatives’ house in Quezon City.

She said her abductors warned her that they will monitor her movements.

In her petition, she said the police and military authorities as well as the Office of the President have not conducted any investigation on her abduction.

Petitioner added that her right has been violated when she was abducted and interrogated as being a suspected member of the CPP-NPA without the presence of a counsel.

Also, her abductors took from her a memory card, an Ipod, a laptop, a journal, a sphygmomanometer, a stethoscope, and P15,000 in cash.

©Copyright 2001-2009 INQUIRER.net, An Inquirer Company

News Release

June 2, 2009

Now it can be told.

Abducted Filipino-American activist Melissa Roxas, who was forcibly taken by armed men in La Paz, Tarlac last May 19 and surfaced six days later, was subjected to physical and mental torture during her captivity. She now seeks the protection of the Supreme Court for herself and her relatives here in the Philippines.

Roxas is a member of BAYAN-USA , the overseas chapter of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan. She arrived in Los Angeles, California Monday morning June 1, Philippine time, to be reunited with her family. She has not faced the media or issued any statement since her release because of the trauma left by her abduction.

Based on her petition for a writ of amparo and based on her sworn testimony, Roxas was held for six days blindfolded and in handcuffs in an area suspected of being a military camp in Nueva Ecija, possibly Fort Magsaysay, headquarters of the 7th Infantry Division. It is a short distance from La Paz, Tarlac where she was abducted.

During her captivity, Roxas said she heard radio communications where people were addressed as “Sir”. She also heard what she

believed to be was a firing range as well as the sounds of aircraft.

Respondents in the petition for a writ of Amparo include President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, AFP Chief of Staff Victor Ibrado, Philippine National Police chief P/Dir. Gen. Jesus Verzosa and Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit, commanding general of the Philippine Army.

During the time of detention, Roxas was denied counsel, subjected to torture via asphyxiation using a plastic bag and was hit repeatedly by her interrogators. She was forced to admit that she was a member of the New People’s Army and was asked to return to the fold of law.

Roxas was dropped off in front of her house around 6:30am on May 25. Her captors left her with a SIM card and phone as well as the handcuffs they used on her. One of her interrogators even called her on the phone after she was dropped off.

“There is credible basis to say that Melissa was abducted by the military as part of the government’s counter-insurgency operations. The abduction and torture were clear violations of her rights. It is despicable and those involved must be made accountable,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“The Arroyo government must now address this issue. For the past few days, it has systematically attempted to cover up the incident. The Ermita-led Presidential Commission on Human Rights has called the abduction a ‘fabrication’ by Bayan and Karapatan.

Defense secretary and presidential aspirant Gilbert Teodoro has not conducted any investigation in the military’s involvement,” Reyes said.

Bayan said that the matter has also been brought to the attention of the United States government through its embassy in Manila.

“We cannot just let this incident pass. We do not raise these issues simply because we want to discredit the government, as the PHRC alleges. We raise these issues because we want an end to these abductions, torture and other extra-legal activities being undertaken by state security forces,” Reyes said.

“We demand that the incident be investigated and that the PHRC withdraw its earlier statements that the incident was a fabrication,” he added.

The militant group also called on the Obama administration to stop military aid to the Arroyo regime in the aftermath of an American citizen being abducted by Philippine state security forces.

05/26/2009 | 03:25 PM
MANILA, Philippines – One of two companions of abducted Filipino-American activist Melissa Roxas has been freed and is reunited with his family, militant umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said Tuesday.

Bayan cited initial reports from relatives and Karapatan Central Luzon that Juanito Carabeo had surfaced and is now with his family.

“We’re still checking on the status of John Edward Handoc,” it said on its Web site (www.bayan.ph), adding there are no details of Carabeo’s release.

At least eight armed men abducted Carabeo, Handoc and Roxas last May 19 in La Paz town in Tarlac province. Roxas surfaced Monday, six days after the abduction but the circumstances regarding her release are still unknown, Bayan said.

Meanwhile, Bayan’s chapter in the US has undertaken a campaign to release Handoc. – GMANews.TV

http://www.gmanews.tv/story/162911/Abducted-Fil-Am-activists-companion-freed#

Basic CMYK

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 27, 2009

Reference: Rhonda Ramiro, 415-377-2599,

secgen@bayanusa.org, www.bayanusa.org

10 Years Too Long, 200 People Too Many: Filipinos Across the U.S. Call for the Termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement and Justice for the Disappeared

In the wake of the abduction of Filipino American human rights advocate and health worker Melissa Roxas and her companions Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc one week ago in the Philippines, BAYAN-USA launches actions against the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) today, the 10th anniversary of the VFA’s ratification. BAYAN-USA demands the termination of the VFA and justice for victims of abduction and all human rights violations, which have climbed to record levels in the Philippines since the VFA was ratified on May 27, 1999.

“Human rights violations have escalated to unprecedented heights since 2001, when Gloria Macapagal Arroyo became president and the U.S. launched its ‘war on terror.’ It is no coincidence that the Visiting Forces Agreement was ratified just two years earlier in 1999,” stated BAYAN-USA Secretary General Rhonda Ramiro. “The VFA paved the way for U.S. military advisers, troops and equipment to flood the Philippines and to train and equip the Philippine military which has been implicated in 1,017 extra-judicial killings and 1,010 cases of torture. Melissa’s abduction adds an American citizen to the list of over 200 victims of enforced disappearance under Arroyo.”

Roxas, Carabeo, and Handoc, all members of a volunteer health worker team preparing for a medical mission in La Paz, Tarlac, Philippines, were reportedly abducted at gunpoint on May 19 by at least eight heavily-armed masked men riding motorcycles and in a van without license plates. The circumstances of their abduction typify the pattern of dozens of politically-motivated abductions of activists critical of the Arroyo administration, and evidence points to the military as responsible for these acts. Roxas and Carabeo were officially surfaced on May 24 and 25, respectively; unconfirmed reports of Handoc’s surfacing were received as of the writing of this statement. Because the vast majority of abductions and enforced disappearances remain unresolved, BAYAN-USA believes their surfacing was a direct result of rapid community response and an international campaign by BAYAN Philippines, BAYAN-USA, and the human rights organization Karapatan.

“While we are elated that Melissa and Juanito have surfaced and that John Edward might also have been found, we are outraged that they were even abducted in the first place,” said Ramiro. “We call for justice for all three, including a full investigation and prosecution of the abductors.”

“The abduction of Melissa, Juanito and John Edward is directly linked to the VFA and U.S. military aid to the Philippines,” continued Ramiro. “The U.S. government cannot claim ignorance or wash its hands of responsibility, when it is U.S. advisors who are training the Philippine military, U.S. aid that is funding the military training, and U.S. guns and bullets that are being used to threaten and kill innocent civilians.”

BAYAN-USA claims that despite its rhetoric of “change,” the administration of President Barack Obama has clung to Bush’s foreign policy when it comes to the Philippines.  Earlier this year, President Obama phoned Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to express support for the VFA and continuing the annual joint military exercises known as “Balikatan” (“Shoulder-to-Shoulder”).   The estimated total expense borne by U.S. taxpayers for U.S. militarization in the Philippines since the VFA was enacted in 1999 is a lofty $1 billion.  An additional $660 million—up from a reported $400 million just one month ago—is reportedly set to be granted to the Philippines in the coming year.

The VFA also provides justification for the basing of U.S. troops throughout the country, in what is widely perceived as an affront to national sovereignty. Moreover, witnesses have observed U.S. troops participating in combat operations, which is in violation of the VFA itself. In the months of February-May this year alone, the “Balikatan” exercises also led directly to the killing of a young girl and wounding of four more children, the rape of 22 year old Filipina “Vanessa,” and the forced displacement of tens of thousands of residents in Bicol where the exercises were held. No one was held responsible for the killing of the child, and although there was clear evidence that “Vanessa” was raped by a U.S. marine, she refrained from pressing charges because she did not believe she could obtain justice. “Vanessa’s” rape was committed just weeks after the acquittal of U.S. Marine Daniel Smith, who was the only American ever convicted of raping a Filipina despite reports of thousands of rapes committed by U.S. military personnel.

“The VFA fosters a culture of militarization and violence, and both the U.S. and Philippine military are guilty of committing human rights violations with impunity,” stated Ramiro. “Melissa’s abduction should give Congress and the Obama administration even more impetus to terminate the VFA and stop pouring billions of dollars into a regime that abducts and kills innocent people. In the face of a budget deficit in the trillions, it is unconscionable to continue providing aid to the Arroyo government and to perpetuate the costly VFA.  Congress should cut both during the budget appropriations process this spring and summer.”

BAYAN-USA is an alliance of progressive Filipino groups in the U.S. representing organizations of students, scholars, women, workers, and youth. As an international chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYAN-USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of the Philippines and as a campaign center for anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S.  BAYAN-USA’s online petition against the VFA can be found at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/JunkVFAnow/. The online petition to demand justice for Roxas, Carabeo, and Handoc can be found at http://www.gopetition.com/online/28021.html.

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Actions being held in the U.S.

Los Angeles

Vigil in front of the PhilippineConsulate

Wednesday, May 27, 2009, 7:30pm
3600 Wilshire Blvd (between S Harvard Blvd and S Kingsley Dr)
Los Angeles, CA 90010

New York

Rally at the Philippine Consulate and March to Military Recruitment Center

Wednesday, May 27, 2009, 5:30 PM

556 Fifth Ave., New York

San Francisco

Action and Meeting with the Philippine Consulate

Wednesday, May 27, 2009, 4:00 PM

447 Sutter Street, San Francisco

Teach-In on the VFA

Wednesday, May 27, 2009, 6:00-8:00 PM

At South of Market Community Action Center

1070 Howard Street, San Francisco

Seattle

Visiting Forces Agreement Teach-In

Thursday, March 28, 6:30-8:30 PM

Filipino Community Center, 5740 Martin Luther King Jr. Way

San Diego

“As If They Never Left” Teach-In on the VFA

Thursday, May 28, 7:00-9:00 PM

At Filipino American Veterans Association Hall

2926 Market Street, San Diego

News Statement
May 24, 2009

Reference: Rhonda Ramiro, Secretary-General, BAYAN USA, email: secgen@bayanusa.org

MELISSA ROXAS’ SURFACING A VICTORY OF THE PEOPLE’S STRUGGLE, BUT THE SEARCH CONTINUES FOR CARABEO & HANDOC– BAYAN USA

The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN USA, an alliance of 14 Filipino social justice organizations across the United States, is elated to confirm that Filipina-American activist Melissa Roxas, 32, surfaced hours ago in Manila as of Sunday, May 24th. BAYAN USA confirmed this report with the human rights group Karapatan. A detailed account about the circumstances of her surfacing is still forthcoming.
“We are happy to hear about Melissa’s surfacing, but we are still concerned about the whereabouts of her two companions, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc, who were abducted along with Melissa on May 19th and are still missing to this day,” states BAYAN USA Chair Bernadette Ellorin. “We fully intend to pursue the demand for the surfacing of Carabeo and Handoc, as well as justice for Melissa. This abduction should never have taken place.”
Roxas, Carabeo, and Handoc, all members of a medical mission team in La Paz, Tarlac, were reportedly abducted at gunpoint by at least eight masked men in the middle of the night last week. Upon learning of Roxas, Carabeo, and Handoc’s enforced disappearance, BAYAN USA, along with BAYAN Philippines and Karapatan, exerted strong efforts calling for their immediate surfacing, including releasing an online petition addressed to US elected officials that gathered hundreds of signatures in a matter of hours.
“Because more than five days had passed since their abduction, we believe Melissa’s surfacing is a direct result of rapid community response and international pressure exerted from the Philippines and the United States first and foremost,” Ellorin continued. BAYAN USA in Southern California has also been working closely with Roxas’ family in Los Angeles in their campaign efforts to surface Roxas and her companions in the Philippines.
Roxas, a founding member of the cultural organization Habi-Arts in Los Angeles and founding Southern California Representative for BAYAN USA, went to the Philippines in 2007 to pursue human rights advocacy full-time. Her move was set amidst an acute human rights crisis in the Philippines that includes reports of rampant extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, illegal arrest, torture, and summary executions. In 2005, Roxas participated in an international fact-finding mission investigating human rights violations throughout the Philippines under the Arroyo administration.
On Wednesday, May 27th, BAYAN USA member organizations across the United States will be launching actions denouncing the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), a military pact that allows for the basing of US military troops in over 20 ports throughout the Philippines. Included in these actions will be the call for justice for Melissa Roxas and for the immediate surfacing of Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc. BAYAN USA firmly believes the continuing, unabated human rights violations committed by the Philippine military and death squads are generously funded by US military aid to the Arroyo government. BAYAN USA also ultimately holds the Arroyo government accountable for the pattern of killings and abductions against civilians critical of the regime since 2001.

“As we continue to campaign for justice for Melissa, Juanito, and John Edward, we are consciously raising awareness of the role of US tax dollars in funding these abductions and other human rights violations. There are hundreds more victims of politically-motivated abductions in the Philippines that are still missing to this day,” Ellorin ended. ###