May 19, 2013 marks the fourth anniversary of the abduction and disappearance of Melissa Roxas. An American citizen, Ms. Roxas was abducted on May 19, 2009 while on a medical mission in La Paz, Tarlac, held against her will and tortured via physical beatings and asphyxiation during her captivity until she surfaced in Quezon City on May 25, 2009. Abundant evidence points to the Armed Forces of the...
May 19, 2013 marks the fourth anniversary of the abduction and disappearance of Melissa Roxas. An American citizen, Ms. Roxas was abducted on May 19, 2009 while on a medical mission in La Paz, Tarlac, held against her will and tortured via physical beatings and asphyxiation during her captivity until she surfaced in Quezon City on May 25, 2009. Abundant evidence points to the Armed Forces of the Philippines as responsible for Ms. Roxas’ abduction and torture. As one of the few survivors of abduction and torture by the military, Ms. Roxas filed her case in the Philippine courts, testified in various venues, and fully cooperated with the investigation undertaken by the Commission on Human Rights. Despite exceptionally credible testimony by Ms. Roxas, the perpetrators of this crime still have not been apprehended. Justice continues to be denied Ms. Roxas, who courageously went public with her story, seeking justice not only for herself, but for all victims of human rights violations, which now number into the tens of thousands since the beginning of your presidential term in 2010.
Just last month on April 16, 2013, the Supreme Court of the Philippines issued a resolution on Ms. Roxas’s case, which orders the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and National Bureau of Investigation to “continue and undertake a deeper probe and investigation of the incidents with the end in view of identifying the perpetrators of the complained abduction and abuses and of the eventual filing of cases for said resultant crimes.” The Supreme Court’s resolution was issued just a few weeks after the Philippines Court of Appeals also declared that activist-agriculturalist Jonas Burgos was abducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and specifically named Major Harry A. Baliaga Jr. as responsible for his abduction. However, despite overwhelming evidence that Melissa Roxas, Jonas Burgos and so many others have been abducted and tortured by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to this day none of the perpetrators have been apprehended or prosecuted.
For many years, reports issued by human rights watchdogs such as KARAPATAN, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International as well as the United Nations indicate that the Philippine military, although in a state of denial, is mainly responsible for the pattern of killings, abductions, torture, and unlawful detainments in the Philippines. We are alarmed that this pattern of impunity persists in the Philippines, where thousands of cases of human rights abuses implicating the military are swept under the rug. Even more disturbing is the fact that the human rights violations appear to be fully sanctioned by your government’s counterinsurgency program Operation Plan Bayanihan.
We appeal to you to do everything in your power to ensure that Philippine authorities fully comply with the Supreme Court’s April 16, 2013 resolution on the case of Melissa Roxas. As people of conscience around the world, we will continue to watch this case and to pursue justice for Melissa Roxas and all victims of human rights violations in the Philippines.