Cal-Nev Philippines Delegation Continues Its Support of Roxas

July 22, 2009

Some members of the California-Nevada Annual Conference Philippines Task Force delegation will stand in support of Melissa Roxas, the Filipino-American activist who alleges she was tortured at the hands of the Philippines military, when she attends a hearing on her court case next week in Manila.


The delegation, traveling to the Philippines for its annual pastoral and solidarity visit, escorted Roxas back to pursue her petition for protection from state agents under a Writ of Amparo, a legal remedy devised by the Philippines Supreme Court in an effort to stop extrajudicial killings and abductions. They arrived in Manila late Monday night and were greeted by Commission on Human Rights Chair Leila de Lima, a group of congressmen and other officials, and members of the media.


"She said she was relieved to see me," the Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted Quezon Representative Lorenzo Tanada III as saying. He described her as "fragile," and Roxas herself told reporters she is still traumatized by what happened to her in May.


"It's really hard for me to come back but I really wanted to tell the truth about what happened to me," she said, wiping away tears with a handkerchief.


"I'm doing this not for myself but for all victims [of abductions and torture]. I believe that in pursing this case, the abuses will stop," she added.


Roxas and community health workers Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Jandoc were conducting a survey in advance of a medical mission when they were abducted in Tarlac, north of Manila, May 19 by several heavily armed men. Released seven days later, Roxas said she and her companions were taken to what she presumed was a military camp in Central Luzon, where she was tortured.


Carabeo and Jandoc, who are citizens of the Philippines, are said to have been released after Roxas but have not spoken publicly about their ordeal, reportedly for fear of retribution against themselves and their families.


Roxas is scheduled to attend a Commission on Human Rights hearing on Thursday and to appear at a Court of Appeals hearing July 30, the same day that Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C. The agenda of the first state visit between the two countries since the Obama Presidency began currently omits the discussion of human rights violations, including the Roxas case.


The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that it was Leila de Lima who made security arrangements for the CHR's "star witness in an ongoing investigation into alleged illegal abductions and the use of torture by Philippine military agents."


The newspaper reported that the United States Embassy in Manila said it would closely monitor the security of Roxas, who is an American citizen, as well.


"We take the safety and security of American citizens very seriously and will watch the case closely," said US Embassy spokesperson Rebecca Thompson, who the paper said refused to comment further.


The California-Nevada delegation has been asked to escort Roxas back to the United States following her court appearances.