Source: Emmi de Jesus, Secretary General, 371-2302 / 0197-3221203

29 June 2009

GABRIELA National Alliance of Women in the Philippines commends Fil-American and BAYAN USA member Melissa Roxas for her courage to tell the world of her harrowing experience in the hands of the merciless Philippine military and to seek justice not only for herself but for other Filipinos who were and are victims of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) atrocious violations of the human rights.

There is no doubt that the AFP was behind the abduction and torture of Melissa. It is enraging that after subjecting Melissa to such ordeal, the AFP now attempts to belittle Melissa’s testimony and to even mock her by claiming that her account is but an act. The AFP never admitted to the countless killings, involuntary disappearances, torture and other forms of violations of the Filipino people. The AFP is a fascist institution that historically and systematically violated the rights of women and men who dared uphold the interests of the masses. As such, it is the AFP that has mastered the act of denial.

Melissa surfaced to tell and she now lends her voice to the many women who remains missing like Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno; to those who are still languishing in jail like Angie Ipong and Eizabeth Principe; and to those who have been silenced permanently like Beng Hernandez and Rebelyn Pitao. Melissa now seeks justice not for only for herself but for all victims of the Arroyo regime’s policy of silencing the Filipino people’s dissent.

Since Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took office in January 21, 2001 until March 2009, more than a thousands Filipinos were victims of extra judicial killings; 119 of them are women. More than 200 were victims of involuntary disappearance, 30 are women; 223 are jailed for political reasons, 27 are women and four are minors.

These are not mere numbers but lives extinguished, vanished and constrained. This is the legacy of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who now even shamelessly seeks to perpetuate her power indefinitely.

Melissa’s voice will not be lone. The Filipino women and men, in seeking justice and to stop human rights violations in the Philippines now heightens the fight to end the reign of Arroyo’s fascist regime. The women of GABRIELA are one with Melissa in her fight for justice and for all Filipino victims of human rights violations.###