Sunday, June 27, 2010


Awardee Melissa Roxas mulls GMA human rights suit in US

We finally got to meet Melissa Roxas, who’s become a symbol of outgoing President Arroyo’s abject failure to protect human rights.

Roxas was one of the awardees at the 5th annual People’s Ball organized by the Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC), at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel over the weekend.

The other awardees included retired US Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who helped expose American prison abuses in Iraq; Dr. Josefina Magno who helped set up hospices in the US and Philippines; John Reed, co-founder of the world renown Bayanihan Dance Troupe; DC Deputy Mayor Valerie Santos (a no-show); and Philippine Ambassador Willy Gaa (represented by the Philippine Embassy’s chief Capitol Hill operator Consul Ariel Penaranda).

The People’s Ball is one of the biggest Fil-Am gatherings in Metro DC.

Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo and Miss Maryland International Heather Young also graced the affair.

Roxas delivered the response on behalf of the evening’s awardees.

Roxas was abducted last year while on a medical mission in Tarlac, allegedly by army agents. She was accused of being a member of the communist New People’s Army (NPA).

Lawyer Arnedo Valera, MHC executive director, filed a complaint with the State Department which has promised to look into the allegations, as well as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture.

Roxas is an American citizen.

The Philippine Court of Appeals granted a writ of amparo, which has been elevated to the Supreme Court because of the government’s alleged failure to provide the names of Roxas’ suspected tormentors.

She admits they are set to file charges against President Arroyo after she steps down this month. It could be a class suit similar to that filed by human rights victims against President Ferdinand Marcos.

Human rights groups say about a thousand people -- peasant organizers, union leaders, priests and journalists -- have been summarily executed during President Arroyo's tenure.

A federal district court in Hawaii declared Marcos guilty for forced disappearances, summary executions and torture of some 10,000 people, and was ordered to pay close to $2 billion in damages.

Valera revealed they are still studying where to sue Mrs. Arroyo.

Presidents are immune from suits while in office according to both Philippine and US jurisprudence. But in 1997, the US Supreme Court in the case of President Clinton, declared a sitting president can be sued for complaints that are private in nature or where the offense occurred before his incumbency.

As Mrs. Arroyo herself pointed out, the only immunity she enjoys as Pampanga congresswoman is for utterances she may make on the floor of the Batasan.

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