CHICAGO (June 30) – Filipino American Melissa Roxas has found a powerful ally in a Democrat member of the United States House of Representatives.
The lawyer of Roxas, who was abducted and tortured by whom she believes were Philippine military, disclosed Saturday (June 28) that Rep. James Moran of the 8th District of Virginia “has raised a howl over Melissa’s abduction and torture.”
Arnedo S. Valera quoted the senior congressman as saying, “People get kidnapped and just because they’re Filipino Americans, their country of origin feels some right to kidnap, even abuse them. The reality is that Melissa is an American just like my daughter is an American. The Philippine government or military or paramilitary, whoever it was that abducted her, committed a crime.”
Valera made the statement during a press conference in Los Angeles, California Saturday, where Roxas described how she and two others, John Edward Jandoc and Juanito Carabeo, were kidnapped and tortured on May 19, 2009 by 15 armed men, some of them wearing masks, in La Paz, Tarlac in the Philippines.
He said it was during the Migrant Heritage Commission People’s Ball on June 7 to celebrate the 103 years of Filipino Migration to the U.S. and the Philippine Independence Day, when Rep. Moran made known his feelings over Roxas’ abduction.
U.S. Representative Moran advocated that the military aid of the U.S. government to other countries should only be linked to the way those countries treat its own people and its neighbors.
Moran, a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee and the Defense, Interior and Labor and Human Services subcommittees, said, “If a military is going to try to act with impunity whether it be in the Philippines, Indonesia, any other nation whether in Asia, Africa or South America, they should not be receiving military assistance because military assistance is meant to be used to further American values.”
Valera said, “the Philippine Government should be ashamed for characterizing Melissa’s ordeal as a ‘stage-managed’ abduction and nothing more than a stunt perpetuated by the petitioner and her handlers to gain tremendous ‘media mileage’ and questioning the petitioner’s truthfulness to the extent of her sanity.
“These unapologetic and rhetorical comments are highly irresponsible, immoral, absurd and grave insult to the intelligence of the victim and the Filipino people. These fallacies played by government as their defense(s) against Roxas are cynical attempts to displace their direct responsibility and avoid whatever form of culpability for the crimes they have committed vs. Melissa.”
Valera added Melissa was tortured and “that is a fact. The government‘s position is so absurd and highly improbable, that either their theories of escaping liability is that: the abduction and torture of Melissa did not happen or that Melissa inflicted unto herself such as to be hanged, punched, choked and suffocated by a plastic bag all alone. Her abduction typifies the abductions and enforced disappearances of innocent civilians, allegedly last seen in the hands of suspected state security forces.
“The very least that the Philippine Government should have done, if there is still any moral and legal decency left on its sleeves, is to surface the abductors and torturers instead of flat and empty denials. They know what they have done to Melissa. Their act of impunity exhibits little respect for life, freedom, justice and the law of nations. They should be held accountable.”
Roxas has filed a petition for a writ of amparo against the Philippine military before the Philippine Supreme Court.
Valera said he is exploring the possibility filing of a tort action in U.S. Federal Court for punitive and compensatory damages against her identified assailants or the Arroyo government in the absence of named assailants; the lodging of a private complaint before the U.S. Department of State, Human Rights Desk against the Philippine government for the violation of the fundamental rights of a U.S. citizen; and the filing of a complaint before the appropriate U.N. agencies for violations of the International Covenant Against Torture, the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights.