Reyes said these are consistent with the narration of the victim that she was dragged on her knees from the house to the van and that she was handcuffed.
Reyes said that Roxas told them that one of the abductors, a certain Rose, treated the abrasions.
The five-page medical report submitted by the doctors to the court also indicates that torture methods used against Roxas were blunt trauma (punching, poking and slapping), asphyxiation (dry method), humiliation and threats of death.
Sister Cecil Ruiz, chairperson for Central Luzon of the human-rights group Karapatan, said the government’s claims are incredible. “Their conclusion is laughable. How could the victims do such things?” Ruiz said.
Ruiz, along with other human-rights volunteers in Tarlac, went to the place of the incident May 24 upon the request of Carabeo’s relatives. She said the barangay (village) captain confirmed that an abduction actually happened on May 19. The incident was promptly reported to the La Paz police and later to the provincial Office of the police, Ruiz added.
“They are saying this to cover up the crimes committed by the perpetrators,” Ruiz said.
In a separate statement, Karapatan criticized the OSG for dismissing the incident as “stage-managed” by Roxas and her other two companions. The group said such statements are a denial of the abductions and the practice of torture as a policy of the Armed Forces.
Marie-Hilao Enriquez, secretary-general of Karapatan, also denounced 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 reporting to the world the atrocities on human rights that this government has never stopped committing,” she said.
In an interview with Bulatlat, Fernandez, Roxas’s lawyer, said there is a clear collusion between the abductors and the police. He explained that the police focused on profiling the victims instead of the perpetrators.
In its initial report, the Tarlac Provincial Police Office states that background investigation disclosed that Carabeo is a regular member of the New People’s Army and has pending criminal cases. The same information about Carabeo is indicated in the report of the regional office of the police.
“No firearms have been found. If they are NPA members, they should have been armed,” Ruiz said. She noted that red-baiting is usually done by state agents against their victims.
In a statement, Karapatan’s Enriquez said “the government should be investigating its military personnel” instead of vilifying the victims.
Enriquez added that the Philippine government should finally comply with the United Nations covenant against torture, citing the United Nations Committee Against Torture’s (UNCAT) concluding observations – that torture is widespread in the Philippines — in its review of a recent Philippine government report to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Tijam, one of the Court of Appeals judges, asked Fernandez: “Why are you adamant in including Arroyo [in the list of respondents]? Are you saying there is a state policy?”
Fernandez replied that human-rights violations are part of a state policy by the Arroyo regime. He said the counter-insurgency program of the Arroyo administration Oplan Bantay Laya is a policy of neutralizing so-called “legal personalities” of the left.
He argued that under the principle of command responsibility, Arroyo is liable for human-rights violations, citing the Yamashita standard.
In its retort, state prosecutors argue that the inclusion of President Arroyo is unwarranted in view of her immunity from suit. “It is important that the President be freed from any form of harassment, hindrance or distraction to enable her to fully attend to the performance of her official duties and functions,” read the response of the respondents to Roxas’s petition.
Meanwhile, Tijam said Roxas’s presence is crucial in the hearings. “Substantial evidence can only be provided by the victim,” he said. Fernandez asked the court to set another hearing.
Villar objected. “We are going (around) in circles,” he said, to which Tijam replied” “You might be going (around) in circles but this court is not. They are only asking for three weeks.”
The court agreed to set another hearing on July 24. “If Roxas fails to appear, this case will be sent to the archives,” Tijam said.
But Tijam added that the court would understand if Roxas fails to appear before the court because of fear. “That’s a valid human emotion,” he pointed out.
Fernandez said Roxas is “getting stronger and more courageous” and she wants to appear in court.
During Roxas’s press conference in Los Angeles on Sunday, her lawyer said she would file cases against the Philippine government in a US federal court.
If she pursues the case there, it might be the first time that torture as a routine practice in the Philippines could be highlighted in an open US court and probably the first time, too, that Manila will be asked to pay for its policy of torture.
While other torture victims have filed cases against the government in the Philippines, these cases have not prospered. And while victims such as Raymond Manalo, who endured 18 months of torture in a military camp along with his brother, have testified in the United Nations, the Arroyo regime has largely evaded responsibility.