Case of Mistaken Identity: Fil-Am Activist Accused of Being a Rebel

melissa-roxasBy Kristian

There are many words to describe Melissa Roxas, an accomplished Filipino-American activist, but a rebel? The Philippine government claims that Melissa Roxas fits the description of a member of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines formed in 1969. They have not only been a threat to the Philippines but also to the US and Europe being designated as a foreign terrorist organization post 9/11. In 2007, Melissa traveled back to the Philippines to conduct research for a writing project and to dedicate more of her time to community health work. On May 19th, 2009, while on a medical mission in Tarlac, Melissa Roxas became a victim of a human rights violation herself when she was abducted at gunpoint and held against her will for six days, while being subject to physical and psychological torture until her surfacing in Quezon City on May 25, 2009.

In an affidavit she executed last June, Roxas said her abductors repeatedly tried to make her confess into being an NPA member. In an article from GMANews, the real target of the abductors of Fil-Am activist Melissa Roxas was actually a former official of Migrante International. “Maita” mentioned in the affidavit of Roxas is Maita Santiago, the Migrante’s secretary-general for three years. According to a recent article from the New York Times, the facts presented in Melissa Roxas’s case are still under investigation which highlighted something that international and local human rights groups say is all too common in the Philippines: violations of human rights by the military in the name of battling a communist insurgency.

Melissa Roxas was reported to be a part of the left-leaning Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) or New Patriotic Alliance whose members claim that they have been targets for a “cleansing process” after the Philippines’ new and controversial anti-terrorism law took effect. Many bloggers have been covering Melissa Roxas and I am surprised that it was not brought up here on 8asians, which why I decided to take the opportunity to discuss this issue; there is also a campaign that is a broadly-carried initiative of organizations, churches, and individuals who support Melissa Roxas, an American victim of state-sponsored abduction and torture in the Philippines, and her pursuit of justice and accountability. For more coverage and updates on this matter, you can visit my blog, Fil-Am Ako.

ABOUT KRISTIAN: Kristian is the blogger of Fil-Am Ako, based in Chicago.

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