Contact: Kuusela Hilo
Vice Chair, BAYAN-USA
Los Angeles, CA– Just hours before Melissa Roxas’ Writ of Amparo hearing, BAYAN USA led a Vigil for Justice in front of the Philippine Consulate to demand justice for Melissa and all victims of human rights violations in the Philippines. Dozens gathered, from as far as San Diego, to express their outrage for what was done to Roxas and thousands of others and the worsening social and economic conditions in the Philippines. The protest action, in Roxas’ hometown, was just one of a nationally-coordinated string of actions denouncing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address and her visit to the US at the end of the week.
The Vigil for Justice also addressed the upcoming meeting between President Obama and President Arroyo at the White House. All attendees of the vigil signed a super-sized letter to President Obama, demanding that he take a stand for justice and defend Melissa Roxas. AnakBayan LA and SiGAw (Sisters of Gabriela, Awaken!) performed a heart-wrenching street theater piece, re-enacting the abduction and torture of Melissa Roxas and the on-going campaign to demand justice for Roxas and all victims.
The Vigil for Justice began with a blessing and reading by Rev. Lisa Santiago of Grace United Methodist Church. Rev. Santiago quoted the story of the Widow and the Unjust Judge (Luke 18:1-8), and called on the people to persevere and struggle for justice. Daya Mortel of Habi Arts and Regional Coordinator of BAYAN USA Southwest demanded that President Obama and the American people listen and do something now. “Every time that Melissa has to re-tell the abduction and torture, she is reliving the traumatic experience. How many times will she have to tell her story and relive that hellish experience before President Obama listens?,” asked Mortel. “No US taxes should be funding human rights violations by death squads and the Armed Forces of the Philippines!,” Mortel concluded.
US military aid to the Philippines grew a staggering 1,500% during the Bush administration and is widely believed to have funded the Philippine military personnel that committed the human rights atrocities, which includes a body count of at least 1,013 people killed and 1,036 people tortured.
“To see the state of the Philippine nation, we can look at what happened to Melissa Roxas. There is nothing wrong in helping those neglected by the government, those who do not have access to the basic health services!,” stated Kuusela Hilo, AnakBayan LA member and Vice Chair of BAYAN USA. “US intervention, such as the Visiting Forces Agreement, and the Philippine government’s retaliation against activists makes the worsening socio-economic crisis even worse, terrorizing the Filipino people. We admire Melissa Roxas’ courage as she continues to advocate for the Filipino people, exposing the US-Arroyo regime and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, so that the struggle for justice is not silenced. We must continue to do our part in the struggle for genuine freedom and democracy in the Philippines!” concluded Hilo.
Representatives from BAYAN USA, GABRIELA USA, AnakBayan Los Angeles, AnakBayan San Diego, SiGAw, Habi Arts, International Action Center, Coalition LA, Echo Park United Methodist Church, and the (FMLN) Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front offered messages of solidarity during the Vigil for Justice.
More information about the Justice for Melissa Roxas campaign can be found at www.justiceformelissa.org.
BAYAN-USA is an alliance of progressive Filipino groups in the US representing organizations of students, scholars, women, workers, and youth. As an international chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYAN-USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of the Philippines and as a campaign center for anti-imperialist Filipinos in the US.