Abduction of Fil-Am activist, 2 others is a HRV that cannot be erased by discrediting Karapatan and other human rights defenders

The human rights alliance Karapatan today issued a statement condemning the malicious statements made by the Presidential Human Rights Committee on Wednesday.

Karapatan Secretary General Marie Hilao-Enriquez said bad-mouthing Karapatan will not erase the fact that there was a reported incident of an abduction of a Fil-Am activist and two other community health workers.

The PHRC alleged that Karapatan and Bayan had made up the abduction of three community health workers Melissa Roxas, Juanito Carabeo and Edward Handoc.

The PHRC even went to the extent of saying, “There are no reports of this case in the local government office or with local police authorities of the Municipality of La Paz, Tarlac, where the abduction allegedly took place, filed by anyone…”

Karapatan Secretary General Marie Hilao-Enriquez said, “Check your facts or eat your words!  Their statements only show that they are so incompetent, they are wasting the people’s money!”

A simple check with the PNP in Camp Crame would have informed the PHRC that a police report dated May 20, 2009 reports of an abduction incident on May 19, 2009 at Sitio Bagong Sikat, Bgy. Kapanikian, La Paz, Tarlac involving three persons with one female victim who shouted her name as “Elisa Roxas,” as heard by neighbors. 

Karapatan is in possession of this report signed by La Paz Police Chief Inspector Ronald R. Fernandez.

Similarly, the Police Anti-Crime and Emergency Response or PACER in its letter to Karapatan dated May 26, acknowledged that Tarlac Provincial Police Office Director Rudy Lacadin has reported the incident to PACER on May 25, 2009.

Hilao-Enriquez said, “Now, the malicious, virulent PHRC statement quoted and circulated by the Philippine embassy in the US only shows the veracity of Prof. Philip Alston’s report that the vilification of civil society groups in the country continues.” She continued, “This time it is done regrettably by a supposed human rights body created under the office of the President.  This puts us in a very dangerous situation as we can be open targets from the state security forces just like what happened to many victims of extrajudicial killings, abductions and frustrated killings.”

Karapatan said that it is even reprehensible that the PHRC, instead of diligently investigating the incident, is using the case to sow divisions among civil society organizations and pitting them against each other by quoting supposed “diligent” investigation conducted by what they term as “more credible” groups.  In the process, the PHRC has exposed its ineptness.  For in the first place, why do they have to go to civil society organizations first rather than the police and other government investigative bodies?  Do we take it now to mean that the PHRC considers civil society organizations as more reliable than government investigative bodies?  Just wondering.

Hilao-Enriquez said, “At any rate, we would like to tell the PHRC that our mandate is to document cases reported to us and assist victims to secure justice and prevent further violations.  We do NOT COMPETE with government agencies, NGOs and CSOs working on human rights violations cases.”

Further, Karapatan hopes that the PHRC disabuse their minds that an organization can be discredited by circulating baseless, malicious statements and vilification; nor believe that the PHRC is the one to grant credibility to an organization.  “We are proud to say that our credibility is founded on our work, the victims’ trust in us and the recognition of the international community,” said Hilao-Enriquez.

In parting, Ms. Hilao-Enriquez tells the PHRC, “Do your jobs first; stop wasting people’s money and stop being rumor mongers.  Kumita na yan sa panahon ng martial law!”###