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Filipino American Denies Being a Guerrilla

Philippine Daily Inquirer, News Feature, Leila Salaverria, Nikko Dizon Posted: Jul 30, 2009

MANILA, PhilippinesThe Filipino-American activist who claimed to have been tortured by military agents denied on Wednesday that she was the young woman in the video presented by two lawmakers as purported proof that she is a communist rebel.

Testifying at a hearing conducted by the House committee on human rights, Melissa Roxas wept as she narrated that during her six-day captivity in what seemed like a military camp, one of her abductors showed her pictures apparently taken from the video.

She wondered whether the source of the video was her abductors, and insisted that she was not a member of the New Peoples Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

She raised the same points at a public hearing conducted by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) later in the day, with Representatives Jovito Palparan and Pastor Alcover of the party-list groups Bantay and Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (Anad), respectively, seated a few meters from her.

De Lima earlier said the militarys Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija was being considered among the places where Roxas could have been held.
Roxas, 31, has claimed that she and her two companionsJuanito Carabeo and Edward Jandocwere forcibly taken by armed men in La Paz, Tarlac, on May 19. She said she was accused of being an NPA rebel, held and tortured for six days, and freed after she pretended that she was willing to return to the fold of the law.

She flew to the United States early in June, shortly after filing charges against the military. She returned to the Philippines last week to press her case. Palparan, a retired major general, is nicknamed Berdugo (Butcher) by cause-oriented groups who accuse him of involvement in the disappearance and death of activists and human rights workers.

Basic human right

De Lima said it was important to determine the source of the video to establish if it was authentic.

She added that even if a person were a rebel, this would not diminish the allegation of torture: Her affiliation doesnt matter. It is a basic human right ... freedom from torture. Nobody deserves to be tortured, not even prisoners of war.

De Lima also appealed to all parties not to engage in psywar tactics or propaganda so that the truth would come out.

Roxas lawyer, Rex Fernandez, said the photos and video should be expunged from the CHR hearing as evidence because it pertained to his clients informational privacy.

Fernandez pointed out that it was not Roxas who was on trial.

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