Rights group reiterates calls on government to stop policy of torture, render justice to victims

At the CA hearing today for Fil-Am torture survivor, Melissa Roxas’ petition for the writ of amparo

Rights group reiterates calls on government to stop policy of torture, render justice to victims 

Karapatan commends adbucted torture survivor Fil-Am activist Melissa Roxas for speaking to the public for the first time yesterday, Sunday (Manila time). Roxas tearfully recounted her experience in the hands of her abductors, in a press conference in Los Angeles which was streamed via the internet to the rest of the world.

The human rights alliance and relatives of victims of human rights violations shall again troop to the Court of Appeals for the hearing of Roxas’ petition for the writ of amparo.  “We hope that the Court of Appeals will look kindly on Melissa Roxas’ petition and grant the prayers asked for in this case so that the remedies of the writ of amparo can be rendered to her,” thus, said by the mothers of Desaparecidos who attended the hearing to show support to Roxas.

The human rights alliance slams the Office of the Solicitor General and the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. for trying to discredit Roxas' testimony, dismissing the incident as "stage managed" by Roxas and her other two companions, Juanito Carabeo and Eduardo Jandoc. Karapatan says that these statements are a denial of the abductions and the practice torture as a policy of the Armed Forces.

Karapatan strongly denounces the Arroyo regime's continuing denial of these atrocitites, despite the testimonies of victims and survivors like Roxas, Raymond Manalo, Pastor Berlin Guerrero, the Tagaytay 5 and many others which strongly implicate the Philippine military. "Instead of admitting and ending the military's practice of torture as a policy, the regime's continuing denial means that the military will continue with the abductions, tortures, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances for as long as it takes to meet their Oplan Bantay Laya deadline," Karapatan secretary general Marie Hilao-Enriquez explained.

Enriquez also criticized the government for accusing Karapatan of trying to “gain points in the media”. “There is no need for human rights advocates to try to ‘gain points.’ We have always been just reporting to the world the atrocities on human rights that this government has never stopped doing,” she said.

“The government should be investigating its military personnel and finally give justice to the victims, and stop trying to pit human rights organizations and other non-government organizations (NGO’s) against one another.” Hilao-Enriquez added

Karapatan lashes at the Arroyo government in trying to gain favor in the eyes of the public. The Philippine National Police, through Police Supt. Roberto Rosales has already told the press that they have “nabbed a top rebel” Obito Marquez in Taguig on June 21. But Karapatan’s findings revealed that Marquez was never shown an arrest warrant and that he was in fact abducted by several armed men. It was only on June 25 that Rosales issued a statement to the media that the PNP has Marquez in custody.

The PNP has also given the human rights advocates and Marquez’s family a run around, not providing information to which detention facility he is being held, denying his family the right to speak with him, and denying Marquez legal counsel. “Obito Marquez who remains missing up to this day may be suffering from torture experienced by Melissa and her companions that is why the authorities are hiding him.  Imagine the impunity these perpetrators can commit even as the police officials have already admitted that they have him in their custody?  Superintendent Rosales must surface Marquez immediately and observe RA 7438,” Enriquez lamented.

Enriquez also added that, the Philippine government should finally comply with the Covenant against Torture, citing the United Nations Committee Against Torture’s (UNCAT) concluding observations in its review of the Philippine government report  that says, the UNCAT “is deeply concerned that credible allegations of torture and/or ill treatment committed by law enforcement and military services personnel are seldom investigated and prosecuted and that perpetrators are either rarely convicted or sentenced to lenient penalties that are not in accordance with the grave nature of their crimes. The Committee reiterates its grave concerns over the climate of impunity for perpetrators of acts of torture, including military, police and other State officials, particularly those holding senior positions that are alleged to have planned, commanded or perpetrated acts of torture. (arts.2, 4 and 12).”

Karapatan reiterates its call for the government to end torture, stop human rights violations by scrapping Oplan Bantay Laya and render justice to the victims of human rights violations.  For a start, it must dismantle all secret detention places where torture is committed. ####