Monday, May 25, 2009

Dear Friends:

Last May 19th, 2009, one of our members, Melissa Roxas, was abducted at gunpoint by masked men along with two others, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc, in the Philippine province of Tarlac. Melissa, a US citizen, had been living in the Philippines pursuing full-time human rights work. At the time of her abduction, she, Carabeo, and Handoc were part of a volunteer health mission providing free health services to a farming community. 

Please visit and sign the petition demanding for the surfacing of Melissa Roxas, Carabeo and Handoc at

Melissa, age 32, was a founding member of Habi Ng Kalinangan, or Habi-Arts, a Filipino cultural organization based in Los Angeles. She is also the founding Southern California Representative of BAYAN USA, an alliance of 14 Filipino social justice organizations across the United States. In addition to her social justice activism and human rights advocacy, Melissa was an accomplished writer-poet. She was a recipient of the 2004 PEN USA Emerging Voices Rosenthal Fellowship, and was a 2005 & 2006 Kundiman Fellow. 

We believe Melissa, Juanito, and John Edward were abducted for politically-motivated reasons. While conducting community service as health workers, they are also critics of the policies of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo government in the Philippines. The Arroyo government is internationally-notorious for going after its known critics with political repression. In fact, even in Los Angeles, Melissa devoted much of her time to human rights advocacy work to oppose the alarming state of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and summary executions in the Philippines as early as 2005, when she participated in an international fact-finding mission to investigate human rights violations in the Philippines. 

The human rights crisis in the Philippines under the Arroyo administration and the culpability of the Philippine military in perpetrating the killings and abductions would later be pointed out by United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings Philip Alston in his 2007 report on the Philippines. 2007 was also the year Melissa decided to move to the Philippines to serve the cause of human rights for the Filipino people. 

We in BAYAN USA are working closely with BAYAN Philippines and Karapatan: Alliance for the Advancement of People Rights in the campaign to surface Melissa Roxas. Because she is a US citizen, we are appealing to US elected officials and the US Embassy in Manila to take immediate action to ensure Melissa's surfacing and safety.

BAYAN USA will be forwarding the said online petition to the members of US Congress, the US State Department, as well as US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie A. Kenney. A detailed fact sheet on the abduction compiled by human rights group Karapatan is attached for public reference.

Please help us pursue justice for our beloved friend and kasama.


For the BAYAN USA Executive Committee,

Bernadette Ellorin

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