On May 19, she was abducted together with two companions, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Jandoc, by about 15 men in civilian clothes but wearing bonnets and ski masks and bearing long firearms. They were brought to a barracks, where they were repeatedly tortured for days.
Melissa, in particular, was called “Maita” several times and warned that there was nothing the “Canadian government” could do for her while she was being tortured.
She and her companions were later released on the condition that they would not speak in public about what was done to them.
But speak out she did. She has issued a number of statements exposing the violations of her and her companions’ rights, and is set to do more.
She confessed that nothing prepared her for the horrors they went through, even as she had always been aware of the risks to life and limb that are involved in being an activist. “I knew that it was happening, but it wasn’t something that you would imagine happening to yourself,” she said.
During the interview with Bulatlat, Melissa was still visibly shaken by the torture she and her companions went through. She lapsed into prolonged silence and struggled to hold back tears during parts of the interview that lead to flashbacks of the torture sessions.
She still hopes to go back to the Philippines, she said, this time to pursue a case against the military officers and enlisted personnel who were involved in their torture. “The Philippine government and military should not get away with what happened to me, and that means that I would have to go back to tell that story,” she said.
This, Melissa said, is because she is aware that the issue goes beyond what was done to her. Keeping silent, she said, “is like silencing forever all the voices that have been silenced.” (Bulatlat.com)