May 24, 2009

Reference: Kuusela Hilo, BAYAN-USA Vice Chair, 818-395-9207,

Rhonda Ramiro, BAYAN-USA Secretary General, 415-377-2599,


BAYAN-USA, an alliance of 14 Filipino American organizations and
chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan Philippines), is calling
on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the Department of National
Defense, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to immediately
surface Melissa Roxas, an American citizen of Filipino descent who was
abducted in the Philippines on May 19. BAYAN-USA also urgently calls
on our representatives in the U.S. Congress to act quickly to ensure
the safe return of Roxas.

Roxas is a well-known Filipino American activist, who served as the
first Regional Coordinator of BAYAN-USA in Los Angeles and co-founded
the cultural organization Habi Arts. Roxas is an active human rights
advocate and was instrumental in organizing a BAYAN-USA contingent
that participated in the International Solidarity Mission in 2005, an
international fact finding mission that called attention to the
escalating human rights violations in the Philippines. Roxas went to
the Philippines in 2007 to pursue human rights work, where she became
a full time volunteer health worker. She was abducted on May 19, 2009
at approximately 1:30 PM in Sitio Bagong Sikat, Barangay kapanikian,
La Paz, Tarlac. She was with two other volunteers, Juanito Carabeo and
John Edward Handoc.

Based on reports filed by the human rights group KARAPATAN and the La
Paz police, Roxas and her companions were taken by at least 8 armed,
hooded men riding two motorcycles and a Besta van without any license
plate numbers. There has been no word on the whereabouts and condition
of Roxas and her companions since the abduction. The circumstances of
Roxas’ abduction typify the abductions and enforced disappearances of
over 200 innocent civilians, allegedly last seen in the hands of
suspected state security forces.

“We are deeply concerned about the abduction of Melissa Roxas, Juanito
Carabeo and John Edward Handoc. We call for Melissa and her companions
to be immediately surfaced unharmed,” said BAYAN-USA Secretary General
Rhonda Ramiro. “We condemn the ongoing abductions and human rights
violations that have been rampant under the Arroyo administration and
victimized thousands of innocent people.”

The search for Roxas and her companions will be spearheaded by the
human rights organization KARAPATAN, while BAYAN-USA, its member
organizations, and allies will undertake an international campaign to
exert pressure on the Arroyo government to surface Roxas. “We appeal
to our elected officials, members of the Filipino American community,
and all people in the U.S. who believe in human rights to take action
to surface Melissa and her companions. Since we were founded in 2005,
BAYAN-USA has campaigned ceaselessly for an end to the human rights
violations in the Philippines, and we will not stop until we obtain
justice for Melissa and all victims of human rights violations under


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