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Tag Archives: Karapatan

Bayan Muna Partylist provincial chairperson & elected Municipal Official shot to death in Aklan, Panay, Philippines

UA No: 2010-07-01

UA Date                     :           6 July 2010

UA Case                     :           Assassination, Violation against Children’s Rights to Protection or

Safety by the State or its Agents, Threat/Harassment/Intimidation

Victim/s                      :           Assassination

Fernando Baldomero

  • 61 years old, male, married with children
  • A resident of Brgy. Sta. Cruz, Biga-a, Lezo, Aklan, Philippines
  • 2nd Termer Municipal Councilor of Lezo, Aklan
  • Provincial Chairperson, Bayan Muna Partylist
  • Provincial Coordinator, Makabayan Coalition-Aklan
  • Member, Society of Ex-detainees for Liberation, against Detention and for Amnesty (SELDA)

Threat/Harassment/Intimidation, Violation against Children’s Rights to Protection or Safety by the State or its Agents

Karl Philip Baldomero

  • 12 years old, male
  • Son of Fernando

Place of Incident        :           Brgy. Estancia, Kalibo, Aklan

Date of Incident         :           July 5, 2010 at around 6:30 AM

Alleged Perpetrator(s):         two unidentified armed men believed to be military elements

Account of the Incident:

At around 6:30 AM, Fernando Baldomero was in front of his rented house in Brgy. Estancia, Kalibo boarding his motorcycle with his 12-year old son on their way to school when two medium built men in

a black motorcycle stopped in front of them.  The backrider who was wearing a black jacket, a helmet and a pair of sunglasses that completely covered his face disembarked, and using a handgun, started shooting the victim at close range in front of his terrified son.  The driver was wearing a white shirt and a pair of denim pants and had no covering over his face.  Witnesses noticed that there was a long firearm at the back of the driver.

Baldomero suffered two gunshot wounds to the head which pierced through his helmet and one to the neck.  The assailants left soon after.  Witnesses even tried to run after them but they drove very fast.  The victim was immediately brought to the Kalibo Provincial Hospital but he was pronounced dead-on-arrival.

Baldomero’s son, Karl Philip, was also immediately brought to the doctor because he was severely traumatized by the incident.

It can be recalled that during the 2010 election campaign period, two men on board a motorcycle with no license plate lobbed grenades at the Baldomero ancestral house in Brgy. Sta. Cruz Biga-a, Lezo, Aklan on 19 March 2010.  One of the grenades landed and exploded in the kitchen located at the rear part of the house, while the other one landed inside the main part of the house where Fernando’s 92-year old father Ramon was preparing feeds for his chicken.  Fortunately, the second grenade did not explode.

In 2005, while Fernando Baldomero served as a barangay (village) councilor in Lezo, he was arrested and detained because the military and the police linked him with a unit of the New People’s Army (NPA) and charged him with the alleged crime committed by the rebel group in Guimbal, Iloilo and San Remigio, Antique.  He was cleared from both charges and was later released.

He was again slapped with two trumped up charges by the military in connection with NPA activities in Tubungan, Iloilo but they two were dismissed at the Provincial Prosecutor level.

Fernando Baldomero was a political detainee in the 80s tagged by the military as a high-ranking official of the NPA.  After his release, he settled in his hometown in Lezo.

Recommended Action:

Send letters, emails or fax messages calling for:

  1. The immediate formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of representatives

from human rights groups, the Church, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights that

will look into the assassination of Fernando Baldomero, the Violation against Children’s Rights to

Protection or Safety by the State or its Agents and the Threat/Harassment/Intimidation of Karl Philip Baldomero;

  1. The arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators of the above mentioned crime/s;
  1. The military to stop the labeling and targeting of human rights defenders as “members of front organizations of the communists” and “enemies of the state.”
  2. The Philippine Government to withdraw its counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya (Operation Freedom Watch).

You may send your communications to:

H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III

President of the Republic of the Philippines

Malacañang Palace,

JP Laurel St., San Miguel

Manila, Philippines

Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80

Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968

E-mail:

Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)

7th Floor Agustin Building I

Emerald Avenue

Pasig City 1605

Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066

Fax:+63 (2) 638 2216

E-Mail Address: osec@opapp.gov.ph

Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin

Secretary, Department of National Defense

Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,

E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City

Voice:+63(2) 911-9281 / 911-0488

Fax:+63(2) 911 6213

Email: osnd@philonline.com

Atty. Leila De Lima

Secretary, Department of Justice

Padre Faura St., Manila

Direct Line 521-8344; 5213721

Trunkline  523-84-81 loc.214

Fax: (+632) 521-1614

Email:  soj@doj.gov.ph

Acting Chairperson Cecilia Rachel V. Quisumbing

Commission on Human Rights

SAAC Bldg., UP Complex

Commonwealth Avenue

Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines

Voice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188

Fax: (+632) 929 0102

Email:  coco.chrp@gmail.com,

Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below.

URGENT ACTION Prepared by:

KARAPATAN (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights)

National Office

2/F Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin cor Matatag Sts., Brgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City 1100 PHILIPPINES

Voice/Fax: (+632) 435 4146

Email: urgentaction@karapatan.org

Website: http://www.karapatan.org

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Picture

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.

Download printable


A peep of my submission  for Factsheet art show. Come through, check out the dope pieces from the Philippines and here, and learn something new!!!

The FACT SHEET exhibit is a collection of the piece reflects a few of the endless cases of human rights violations in the Philippines. Each of the pieces are based on Fact Sheets that contain important information on these cases. Artists’ ARREST in collaboration with the KARAPATAN (RIGHT) collected works from artists as part of CineVeritas 2008.

Currently, the  FACT SHEET exhibit has crossed the Pacific Ocean  and presenting  30 posters about human rights violations in the Philippines. It is inspired by Bay Area’s Social Serigraphy movement that started in the 1960s, 20 works and ideas of Artists’ ARREST, an art collective in the Philippines.  In addition 10 pieces from Kwatro Kanto collective, Lainerz, KA68, and others artists from the U.S.  The exhibition will show how art can be used as a social practice by forming alliances and mobilizations, from a single person to an entire nation.

Media Contact: Lian Ladia, lian_ladia@yahoo.com

MHF Contact: DiAnne Bueno, dianne.bueno@manilatown.org

MHF: 415-777-1130, 415-399-9580

www.manilatown.org

Political Poster Exhibition on Human Rights at Manilatown

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – San Francisco – January 11, 2010

EVENT: Manilatown Heritage Foundation (MHF), a Filipino American community arts organization based in San Francisco, will host “FACTSHEET: Activism is Not a Crime,” an exhibition of 30 posters by artists in the U.S. and the Philippines about human rights violations in the Philippines, curated by Lian Ladia and Con Cabrera and co-presented with SF Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines.

WHEN: Exhibit runs from February 6-April 24, 2010

Opening reception: Saturday, February 6, 4-6  PM, with live performances and special guest,  Marie Hilo from KARAPATAN, a human rights organization in the Philippines. FREE, donations appreciated

Film & Discussion: Saturday, March 27, 4-6 PM

Film shorts about human rights in the Philippines from the Southern Tagalog Exposure, followed by a panel discussion with Bay Area community organizers. $5-$10, no one turned away for lack of funds

Closing Reception: Saturday, April 24, 4-6 PM

FREE, donations appreciated

WHERE: International Hotel Manilatown Center, 868 Kearny Street (and Jackson), SF

ABOUT THE EXHIBITION: “FACTSHEET: Activism is Not a Crime,” showcases 30 posters by artists in the U.S. and the Philippines about human rights violations in the Philippines. It is inspired by Bay Area’s Social Serigraphy movement that started in the 1960s, as well as by the works and ideas of Artist Arrest, an art collective in the Philippines. FACTSHEET shows how art can be used as a social practice to form alliances and mobilize, from a single person to an entire nation.

ABOUT MANILATOWN HERITAGE FOUNDATION: The Manilatown Heritage Foundation is a non-profit community-based organization formed in 1994 and incorporated in 1998, to advocate for the rebuilding of the International Hotel (I-Hotel) and the preservation of the Filipino legacy in the San Francisco Bay Area. Its mission is to promote social and economic justice for Filipinos in America by preserving our history, advocating for equal access, and advancing our arts and culture. The I-Hotel was the last vestige of a vibrant 10-block area known as Manilatown. Manilatown Heritage Foundation emerged out of the struggle to defend the tenants’ rights to their homes and to preserve the Manilatown District. 28 years after the brutal eviction of the tenants, the new International Hotel Senior Housing opened its doors in August 2005. The Manilatown Center has now come alive with exhibits, weekly events and activities.

###

PRESS STATEMENT Reference:  Marie Hilao-Enriquez

November 26, 2009                                            Chairperson, Mobile No. 09175616800

Inaction on and tolerating human rights violations abet crimes such as the Maguindanao massacre

KARAPATAN condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the massacre of 57 civilians which included media persons and two women lawyers in Maguindanao, on November 23, 2009.

Early this year, the human rights alliance has warned of escalating violence as extrajudicial killings have continued despite declarations from the Arroyo government that it is adhering to the recommendations of the UNSR on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Prof. Philip Alston; and as the government-pronounced deadline of ending the insurgency comes to a close in 2010, which is also an election year..

The Maguindanao massacre was an event waiting to happen with the continued implementation of this criminal government’s anti-insurgency program, Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL).  Under OBL, the recruitment of para-military groups such as the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU), CAFGU Active Auxiliary (CAA) and Civilian Volunteer Organization (CVO’s) as well as the arming of these individuals have persisted and in fact have been resorted to by the government in its mad design of purportedly “ending the insurgency by 2010.”  Such groups, which have been placed under the supervision and effective control of the military, have been tagged, together with the latter and the police, as responsible for various human rights violations happening around the country.

With this counter-insurgency program, so many victims, easily labeled as “fronts”  of “communist organizations”  and “enemies of the state”  have turned up dead, killed in a brutal manner and some disappeared; with the Arroyo government doing nothing to stop the killings, disappearances and other human rights violations.  In fact, it even heaped praises for known perpetrators identified with these crimes.  Under this counter-insurgency scheme, the Arroyo government has become the biggest warlord in the land.

Now the country is jolted by a brutal crime ostensibly committed by a private army of a warlord in one of the so-called election hotspots in the country.  The public is now witness to the barbaric impunity by which the perpetrators can kill and even try to hide the crime as if no law can be applied to prevent them from committing such a brutal act in broad daylight, hiding even such evidences as vehicles with the use of government properties!

For far too long has this regime considered itself a law above the citizens, contravening the laws laid out in the legal instruments of the land so much so that its coddled political allies have imbibed the mindset that they, too, can commit such transgressions with impunity.  Thus, on Monday, these perpetrators have been emboldened to commit the carnage that shocked the world. Such is the result of condoning and tolerating human rights violations.

The public must not allow this government to just relegate such a heinous crime as this massacre of civilians into a mere election-related offense. We must not allow a whitewash of the investigation on this dastardly act especially in the face of the declarations of this regime to get the perpetrators of the crime. We demand for a thorough, diligent investigation, arresting and initiating prosecution proceedings against the known perpetrators of this crime.

We call on the Arroyo government to immediately disband the paramilitary units of the AFP and private armies of warlords and politicians and stop the Oplan Bantay Laya counter-insurgency program as its method to eradicate the festering insurgency in the land.  This strategy is only engendering crimes against humanity.

JUSTICE FOR THE VICTIMS OF THE MAGUINDANAO MASSACRE!

JUSTICE FOR ALL VICTIMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS UNDER THE ARROYO REGIME!

—–
KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties.  It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.  It was established in 1995.

Farmer leader shot dead in CamSur
By Jonas Cabiles Soltes
Philippine Daily Inquirer

First Posted 17:47:00 11/11/2009

Filed Under: Murder, Crime

NAGA CITY, Philippines– A peasant leader was shot dead Tuesday afternoon in Del Gallego, Camarines Sur, a report from the Camarines Sur Provincial Police Office on Wednesday, said.

Rodrigo Torres, 40, of Barangay San Pablo, was about to herd his cattle, about 100 meters from his residence, when unidentified armed men sprayed him with bullets, using M16 rifles, police said.

Police said Torres died instantly.

Operatives from the Del Gallego Municipal Police mounted a manhunt for suspects.

Del Gallego Mayor Bayani Veluz said Torres, a former three-term councilor of the village, was a member of the justice committee of Barangay San Pablo.

Torres was about to attend a convention of the Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan (Patriotic Coalition of Citizens), an alliance of progressive groups in Naga City, the day he was killed.

Torres led the town chapter of the Bicol Coconut Planters Association Inc., which also had him as member of its board of directors from 2002 to 2007, said John Concepcion, spokesperson of human rights group Karapatan-Bicol.

Another artist cries military harassment
By Abigail Kwok
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 13:23:00 09/22/2009

Filed Under: Espionage & Intelligence, Military, Arts (general)

MANILA, Philippines – A creative writer on Tuesday complained of falling victim to military harassment, days after a trainee intelligence officer was caught conducting surveillance outside the residence of National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera.

Writer and University of the Philippines professor Jun Cruz Reyes said during a press conference that unidentified men were conducting surveillance outside his Bulacan home for two days on September 10 and 13.

At around 11:30 p.m. on September 10, around eight men on board a white van reportedly parked outside Reyes’ home in Sta. Elena, Hagonoy town. The men reportedly stayed outside and surveyed Reyes’ home.

On September 13, a black van again staked out the home of Reyes again late at night. The van left minutes after.

“Nagiging kakaiba ang mga pangyayari sa buhay ko,” Reyes said. “Nanganganib ang buhay ko, may mga nagtatangka, gayong wala naman akong kagalit sapagkat ako’y isang manunulat at pintor lamang.”

Also on September 13, an unidentified man approached Reyes while he was having a snack at a nearby convenience store inside the UP campus. The man reportedly took a picture of the author without his consent.

According to Reyes, the man was wearing a blue pants and stood 5’4” in height.

Reyes is an award-winning literary writer having won various awards including the prestigious Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, National Book Awards, and Catholic Mass Media Awards, among others.

When asked why he was being targeted by the military, Reyes said he could not think of any particular reason.

But Reyes admitted that the incidents were not the first for the writer. On November 2007, unidentified men wearing fatigue reportedly went to the home of his neighbor and offered P20,000 to reveal Reyes’ direction.

On August 2007, unidentified men wearing black jackets also attempted to break into his home in Bulacan. But alert neighbors prompted the men to escape.

Reyes criticized the alleged harassment.

“Their method is primitive. The price of gasoline

is very high. They should have searched the Internet if they want to know more about me,” he said.

Human rights group Karapatan said that the military was targeting artists because of their impact in shaping public opinion.

“They help form public opinion and give a creative analysis of what’s happening. They are telling the story in a precise manner easily understood by the masses,” said Karapatan chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez.

Reyes’ legal counsel, lawyer Jules Matibag, said they are “seriously considering” filing for a writ of amparo and habeas data for Reyes’ protection.

Enriquez said Karapatan has also asked the Commission on Human Rights to compel the Philippine Navy to reveal its training module, after it admitted that spy training exercises were being conducted.

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!

####

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.
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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.
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(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,

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