News Release

May 28, 2009

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan condemned in the strongest terms the statement coming from the Philippine government and its Presidential Human Rights Commission on the circumstances of the abduction and eventually surfacing of Filipino-American activist Melissa Roxas and her companions Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc.

“The PHRC has shown utter incompetence once more when it says that there are no police reports regarding the abduction of the three. This is a lie,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes , Jr.

The group said that as of May 20, 2009, the La Paz police through its police chief, Police Chief Inspector Ronald R. Fernandez signed and filed a special report addressed to Tarlac Provincial Director Police S/Supt Rudy Lacadin based in Camp Makabulos. The initial police investigation was spurned by the May 19 report of the homeowner where Roxas and company were abducted and by the report of the baranggay captain of the area where the three were taken.

“We received a copy of Police C/Insp. Fernandez’ report last May 24, from a Karapatan Central Luzon official who personally talked to the La Paz police and was given the report,” Reyes said.

Tarlac provincial director S/Supt. Lacadin, eventually confirmed the incident to the Police Anti-Crime and Emergency Response headed by Police S/Supt. Leonardo Arias Espina. Further proof is that the PACER has contacted Karapatan to formally inquire about the abduction.

Bayan said that it was the La Paz police report, based on their initial investigation, which revealed that Roxas and company were forcibly taken by at least eight armed men, wearing bonnets and riding a van last May 19 in Sitio Bagong Sikat, Bgy. Kapanikian, La Paz, Tarlac.

“It is ridiculous that the PHRC claims that no such report of an abduction was ever filed. It’s obvious that the PHRC did not conduct its own investigation. It seems that it merely relied on word of non-governmental organizations like FIND and AFAD. That the PHRC did not conduct its own probe shows the very little regard it has for the plight of the abducted activists,” Reyes said.

“What is even more outrageous is that despite not conducting its own thorough investigation, despite existing police reports, the PHRC is now forwarding the theory that the three abducted activists were held by the New People’s Army. What is the PHRC’s basis for saying this? What shred of evidence to they have?” the Bayan leader asked.

Bayan believes that as in previous cases of disappearances, the Arroyo government is quick to absolve the military from any involvement and shifts the blame to other entities like the NPA. This theory lacks any credibility even with the international community, the group said.

“There are credible indications that the three were abducted by elements of the military and were taken possibly to a military camp before their eventual release. There is an ongoing investigation as to the circumstances of the abduction. Right now, the organizations and the families of the victims are focused on looking after the recovery and well-being of the three,” Reyes said.

“The PHRC, by prejudging the incident as a mere propaganda tool by Bayan and Karapatan, shows that it has really no intention of uncovering the truth behind the abduction of Roxas and company. The Philippine government is more interested in saving face. From their statements, it is clear that the Arroyo government is gearing for another cover up, first by trying to downplay the incident and next, by blaming it on the NPA,” he added.

Bayan believes that in time, the truth will come out. “And when it does, no amount of official cover up can suppress it,” Reyes said. ###