Sunday, July 19, 2009
MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 19, 2009) – A US woman who accused Philippine soldiers of abducting and torturing her is returning to Manila on Monday to pursue criminal charges against her captors.
The Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights said it provide protective custody to Melissa Roxas upon her from the US.
The human rights body said Roxas is coming back to attend the next hearing on her petition for a Writ of Amparo before the Court of Appeals. She will also testify before the Commission on Human Rights.
The US Embassy in Manila is also investigating the Roxas’ accusation.
She has accused the military of abducting her on May 19 and subjecting her to physical and mental torture. Two other left-wing activists, Juanito Carabeo and Edward Jandoc, were also abducted in the province on May 19.
Roxas was released six days later and has since then went back to the US.
In her petition for a Writ of Amparo, Roxas said she was detained blindfolded and in handcuffs in what she presumed was the Army’s Fort Magsaysay camp in Laur town in Nueva Ecija province, north of Manila.
There, Roxas said her captors repeatedly told her that she was being held because she was a member of the communist rebel group New People’s Army.
“This public hearing by the Commission on Human Rights will be carried out in line with its Constitutional mandate, to investigate human rights violations. The culture of impunity in the Philippines must be brought to an end.”
“These individuals and groups who carry out abductions and torture must be held to account. The government must take meaningful action to protect human rights in the Philippines, not merely in statements and on paper, but also in reality,” said lawyer Leila De Lima, who heads the Commission on Human Rights.
She said it is vital that the survivors of human rights violations are protected. Their safety and well-being, she said, must be safeguarded so they can be allowed to tell their stories and shed light on the true situation in the Philippines today.
“One of the best ways to help ensure the safety of Miss Roxas is to allow her to tell her story to the Filipino people and to the world. That is one more reason these hearings before the Court of Appeals and the Commission on Human Rights as well as the robust participation of media, are so important. Transparency and accountability will help keep Miss Melissa Roxas safe, and they will help keep all of us safe as well,” said De Lima.
The Philippine military has tried to cover up the scandal and even accused Roxas of staging her own abduction. (With a report from Mari Cruz)