Bayan calls on Gov’t to surface Fil-Am activist

Melissa Roxas

Melissa Roxas, a Fil-Am activist was abducted by the military last May 19 with Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc.

Re-posting an urgent news release from BAYAN (sent today) regarding the military’s abduction of Melissa Roxas, a Filipino-American activist doing volunteer work in the Philippines. (see Facebook cause and online petition for the campaign to surface the three activists here)

UPDATE: Melissa Roxas was tortured by the military

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan is calling on the Arroyo government, the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to immediately surface Melissa Roxas, an American citizen of Filipino descent, and a member of BAYAN-USA and the cultural group Habi Arts based in Los Angeles, California.

Roxas was abducted last May 19 at around 1:30 pm in Sitio Bagong Sikat, Bgy. Kapanikian, La Paz, Tarlac. She was with two other volunteers, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc.

Based on reports filed by the human rights group Karapatan and the La Paz police, Roxas and her companions were taken by at least 8 fully-armed, bonnet-clad men on board two motorcycles and a Besta van without any plate numbers.

Since the abduction, there has been no word on the whereabouts and condition of Roxas and her companions.

Roxas is the first case of a Fil-Am activist to be abducted by suspected state security forces.

“It is indeed urgent that Melissa and her companions be surfaced. No harm must come to them. Their rights must be respected. We are outraged that these abductions continue despite repeated condemnation here and abroad,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

Bayan said that the human rights group Karapatan will be spearheading the search for Roxas. “The burden of surfacing Melissa, as in similar cases of abductions, now lies with the Arroyo administration. We also call on the international community to exert pressure on the Arroyo government for it to act swiftly to surface Melissa,” Reyes added.

The following is a statement from BAYAN-USA regarding the Philippine military’s abduction of a member of their organization.

SURFACE FILIPINO-AMERICAN ACTIVIST MELISSA ROXAS NOW

BAYAN-USA, an alliance of 14 Filipino American organizations and chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan Philippines), is calling on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the Department of National Defense, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to immediately surface Melissa Roxas, an American citizen of Filipino descent who was abducted in the Philippines on May 19. BAYAN-USA also urgently calls on our representatives in the U.S. Congress to act quickly to ensure the safe return of Roxas.

Roxas is a well-known Filipino American activist, who served as the first Regional Coordinator of BAYAN-USA in Los Angeles and co-founded the cultural organization Habi Arts. Roxas is an active human rights advocate and was instrumental in organizing a BAYAN-USA contingent that participated in the International Solidarity Mission in 2005, an international fact finding mission that called attention to the escalating human rights violations in the Philippines. Roxas went to the Philippines in 2007 to pursue human rights work, where she became a full time volunteer health worker. She was abducted on May 19, 2009 at approximately 1:30 PM in Sitio Bagong Sikat, Barangay kapanikian, La Paz, Tarlac. She was with two other volunteers, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc.

Based on reports filed by the human rights group KARAPATAN and the La Paz police, Roxas and her companions were taken by at least 8 armed, hooded men riding two motorcycles and a Besta van without any license plate numbers. There has been no word on the whereabouts and condition of Roxas and her companions since the abduction. The circumstances of Roxas’ abduction typify the abductions and enforced disappearances of over 200 innocent civilians, allegedly last seen in the hands of suspected state security forces.

“We are deeply concerned about the abduction of Melissa Roxas, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc. We call for Melissa and her companions to be immediately surfaced unharmed,” said BAYAN-USA Secretary General Rhonda Ramiro. “We condemn the ongoing abductions and human rights violations that have been rampant under the Arroyo administration and victimized thousands of innocent people.”

The search for Roxas and her companions will be spearheaded by the human rights organization KARAPATAN, while BAYAN-USA, its member organizations, and allies will undertake an international campaign to exert pressure on the Arroyo government to surface Roxas. “We appeal to our elected officials, members of the Filipino American community, and all people in the U.S. who believe in human rights to take action to surface Melissa and her companions. Since we were founded in 2005, BAYAN-USA has campaigned ceaselessly for an end to the human rights violations in the Philippines, and we will not stop until we obtain justice for Melissa and all victims of human rights violations under Arroyo.”

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