US activist slams Philippine abduction finding

AP News
Posted: Apr 27, 2011 4:35 AM
US activist slams Philippine abduction finding

A Filipino-American activist who accused the Philippine military of abducting and interrogating her for six days is criticizing an official investigation that did not support her claims.

The Commission on Human Rights said it found that Melissa Roxas and two Filipino colleagues on a volunteer medical mission were forcibly taken by armed men from a house north of Manila in May 2009 and subjected to inhumane and cruel treatment.

Roxas was handcuffed, received blows to her head and body, deprived of food and her life was threatened, the commission said. Her ordeal was "at the very least violations of human rights" and "could even be acts of torture, if committed by agents of the state," it said.

But the commission said it had insufficient evidence to blame the military and had information from credible sources indicating communist rebels may be responsible. It did not elaborate.

Roxas earlier testified that she was a member of the U.S. branch of the Philippine left-wing alliance Bayan, which the Philippine military says supports communist rebels.

Roxas, 33, a Los Angeles resident, said in a statement Wednesday that the findings perpetuate impunity for the government and the military.

The human rights commission "has certainly not fulfilled its duty to protect my human rights," Roxas said.

The military has denied her accusations and officials have suggested the abduction was stage-managed to discredit them and that her wounds were self-inflicted.

The military and left-wing political organizations have traded barbs for decades amid a rural-based communist insurgency that has claimed an estimated 120,000 lives since the late 1960s and stunted economic development.

Despite on-and-off negotiations between the government and the rebels, violence has continued and a U.N. investigator and international human rights organizations have accused the military and police of engaging in extrajudicial killings and abductions of activists.

Loretta Ann Rosales, the commission's chairwoman, defended the report, saying investigators had visited several sites, including a military camp where Roxas and her colleagues were allegedly held, but could not conclude that "the state agents perpetrated the acts of maltreatment ... in government facilities."

Rosales said her commission did not have the capability to conduct any further investigations and recommended that police launch their own probe.