When asked to comment, CHR commissioner Jose Manuel Mamauag told Bulatlat that it’s a peripheral issue. “Their [Alcover and Palparan] mere presence is already an answer to their question on the credibility of the CHR.”
“Regardless of political color, we stick to the main issue of allegation of abduction and torture [of Roxas],” Mamauag said.
“This is the first time they [Palparan and Alcover] encountered a CHR chair who insists on the independence of the commission, who takes her job seriously and who can be depended on by human rights victims. They are threatened by this fact,” Karapatan secretary general Marie Hilao-Enriquez said in an interview with Bulatlat.
Enriquez said Palparan and Alcover aim to destroy the credibility of the CHR as an institution. “For them, there is no place for dissenting opinion,” she said.
“The fact that Palparan and Alcover are now speaking against Roxas’s testimony bolsters our belief that the military is behind her abduction and torture,” Enriquez said.
Visit to Fort Magsaysay
A second visit to Fort Magsaysay, the camp of the Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Division, to ascertain the allegations of Roxas earned for de Lima and the CHR yet another barrage of attacks.
Some members of the Commission on Human Rights during a hearing of Melissa Roxas case. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / bulatlat.com)
In the early morning of July 30, the CHR team, led by de Lima, visited Fort Magsaysay, this time with Roxas. In her affidavit, Roxas’s description of the place of her detention bears similarities with Fort Magsaysay,
Enriquez, who went with the team, said there were obvious renovations on the compound they inspected. “There is a new wall, a new gazebo. The pathway has been changed. The jail cell identified by Melissa is now a storage room.”
But the compound was indeed near a firing range and an airstrip, said Enriquez, referring to Roxas’s assertion. When they went inside one of the comfort rooms, Enriquez said, Roxas was trembling and told her: “This is where they gave me a bath.”
A day after the said visit, Maj. Gen. Ralph Villanueva, commander of the 7th Infantry Division, described the CHR visit as “cunning and deceiving.”
In a report he submitted to Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Victor Ibrado, Villanueva said the CHR used the visit to Fort Magsaysay to look into cases of missing activists apart from Roxas’s case. He said the visit could just be a “fishing expedition” to implicate members of the military in the cases of missing activists.
In his report to Ibrado, Villanueva accused de Lima of “showing obvious bias by not being frank and forthright in her dealings” with the 7th Infantry Division. He even said he was not initially aware that Raymond Manalo https://www.bulatlat.com/main/tag/raymond-manalo/ , a torture survivor, was with de Lima during the visit.
In a letter to Ibrado dated August 1, de Lima said Villanueva’s statements are “unacceptable and uncalled for.” “The assertions made by Maj. Gen. Villanueva are untrue and deplorable. We cannot allow the commission’s credibility and independence to be undermined capriciously and without basis,” de Lima said in her four-page letter to Ibrado.