Bayan countered by saying that “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.”
MANILA – The abduction of Filipino-American activist Melissa Roxas and her two other companions is a fabrication done “at the expense of the Philippine government,” the Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC) has said.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the PHRC, which is chaired by Executive Secretary and former general Eduardo Ermita, said there were no reports to the local authorities about the abduction of Roxas, John Edward Handoc and Juanito Carabeo in a La Paz, Tarlac, contradicting a report released by Bayan and Karapatan this week that the three were kidnapped on May 19 at gunpoint by eight heavily armed and hooded men and shoved into a van without license plates.
“Simply put, there is high probability that the alleged abduction of these persons has been fabricated,” the PHRC said in its statement. It added that because “Karapatan and Bayan have been very silent lately,” there is “apprehension… that both are busy fabricating another story to explain the sudden surfacing of Roxas and the continued ‘disappearance’ of the other two, all at the expense of the Philippine government.”
The PHRC said that “there is strong possibility that Roxas and company were on an
‘immersion’ in NPA-infested areas,” referring to the communist New People’s Army.
Roxas surfaced on Monday, while Carabeo and Handoc were reunited with their families on Tuesday, according to Renato Reyes Jr., secretary-general of Bayan. He refused to provide other details of the condition of the three and the circumstances of their abduction but promised that more details are forthcoming.
Reyes denounced the PHRC for showing “utter incompetence… when it says that there are no police reports regarding the abduction of the three. This is a lie.”
The PHRC said that, based on initial information from the Families of Involuntary Disappearances (FIND) and the Asian Federation Against Disappearances (AFAD), Tthere 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, let alone Bayan and Karapatan. This is surprising considering that both organizations would know that the standard operating procedure is for such cases to be immediately filed by the interested party/ies.”
Bayan’s Reyes, in his statement on Thursday, refuted this, saying “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 spurred 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 (PACER) headed by Police S/Supt. Leonardo Arias Espina. Further proof is that the PACER has contacted Karapatan to formally inquire about the abduction,” Reyes said.
“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.
“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 do 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.
In its statement, the PHRC also asserted that, “as a policy, we consider with serious doubts all allegations of human rights violations from groups like Karapatan, Bayan and their allied organizations, given their penchant for and track record in coming up with unfounded allegations, and for bringing such cases before the media and international organizations with nary an intent to officially refer such cases to government for proper action.”
Reyes countered that “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.” (Bulatlat.com)