Fil-Am, activist, a rebel? The Philippine government claims that Melissa Roxas is all three. In 2007, Melissa traveled back to the Philippines to conduct research for a writing project and to dedicate more of her time to community health work. On May 19th, 2009, while on a medical mission in Tarlac, Melissa Roxas became a victim of a human rights violation herself when she was abducted at gunpoint and held against her will for six days, while being subject to physical and psychological torture until her surfacing in Quezon City on May 25, 2009.
ANAD Rep. Pastor Alcover Jr. claimed that the person in the pictures and video was Roxas at an NPA camp in Aurora province. On July 29th, 2009, Melissa Roxas denied that she was a rebel and the person in pictures and videos shown above which supposedly prove that she is, or was in fact, a member of the outlawed New People’s Army (NPA).
“I’m not (that person in the video). I reiterate, I am an activist. I am not a member of the NPA,” said Roxas during an inquiry of the House Committee on Human Rights.
Roxas made the statement after party-list Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (ANAD) on Saturday presented pictures and video footage showing a woman undergoing an armed training in a forested area.
In an affidavit she executed last June, Roxas said her abductors – some of whom she identified as RC, Dex, James, and a “Bossing” – repeatedly tried to make her confess into being an NPA member.
Case of Mistaken Identity
According to a recent article from GMANews Melissa Roxas’ abductors got wrong victim – group states that the real target of the abductors of Fil-Am activist Melissa Roxas was actually a former official of Migrante International, the militant group said Friday. “Maita” mentioned in the affidavit of Roxas is Maita Santiago, the Migrante’s secretary-general for three years. According to the affidavit, the abductors of the Fil-Am activist called her “Maita” and told her that the Canadian government wouldn’t be able to help her.
Roxas has already sought a writ of amparo – a Spanish word for “protection” – before the Supreme Court on May 28, or days after she was released by gunmen who allegedly abducted her and two others in the northern province of Tarlac. The writ is a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty, and security is violated or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission. It denies respondents, such as government authorities and private individuals and entities, the defense of simple denial. This means that the Philippine government can’t compel or subpoena her.
Many bloggers have been covering Melissa Roxas like Prometheus Brown, Pugnacious Pinoy, and The Mustard Seed to name a few. There is also a website called Justice for Melissa Roxas which is a campaign that is a broadly-carried initiative of organizations, churches, and individuals who support Melissa Roxas, an American victim of state-sponsored abduction and torture in the Philippines, and her pursuit of justice and accountability. These are great sites to go to for a more in depth coverage on this matter. Also, you can donate/support the cause for justice for Melissa Roxas.
Fil-Am AKo’s Advice: I have to say that Melissa Roxas is one very lucky person to come out alive from this incident because in a lot of kidnapping cases in the Philippines, it is very rare for victims to survive. This unfortunate event that Melissa Roxas has experienced is something that leaves a mark on all of us Pinoys living abroad who go home to visit the Philippines. This should have not happened to anyone especially to someone like Melissa Roxas who wanted to dedicate her time and experience towards a medical mission.
UPDATE & CORRECTION ON INFO: Since this case is still being investigated we are still unsure of the facts presented. Fil-Am Ako does not like to be bias in analyzing and presenting this topic. There has been some sources claiming that Melissa Roxas’s group, the left-leaning Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) are sympathizers to the New People’s Army NPA. Other sources show that the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan have been targets for a “cleansing process” which the group claims that “most of the political killings have the signature of military operatives and agents, as the culprits.” This has been happening since the Philippines’ new and controversial anti-terrorism law took effect. Those opposed to the new Human Security Act (HSA) expressed fears that it might lead to more human-rights abuses and be used against leftist opponents of the government. The left-leaning Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), or New Patriotic Alliance, said the law is “a new dark age for human rights and civil liberties” and called the legislation “a recipe for undeclared martial law.” The government, on the other hand, says it needs the legislation to protect the country’s democratic system. The “HSA is about defending our way of life”, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said days before the law was implemented. She assured her political opponents that the law will not be used against them. Times are tough in the Philippines and President Arroyo is not getting any popular (even President Aquino led a movement for Arroyo to step down from office before she was diagnosed with colon cancer). With the upcoming Presidential elections approaching in the Philip
pines, this will certainly be a topic of discussion and will be covered in future posts here at Fil-Am Ako.