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Justice for Melissa Roxas!

Friday, July 31, 2009
The gavel of head justice for the court, Associate Justice Tijam (Photo by Jack Stephens)

The gavel of head justice for the court, Associate Justice Tijam (Photo by Jack Stephens)

I was at the court hearing for Melissa Roxas on Thursday, July 30th at the Court of Appeals in Manila City, Manila.

For those who don’t know Melissa Roxas organizes in the same organization I’m apart of, BAYAN-USA, and during a humanitarian mission to the Philippines where she was conducting health surveys her and two of her companions were abducted by the military personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines at her family’s house in Tarlac. She survived a six day ordeal of being blindfolded, brought to a base, tortured, interrogated, accused of being an armed insurgent in the communist New Peoples Army, and she had her family threatened. Despite all of this, and suffering from PTSD, she decided to fight back and return to the Philippines to file for a Writ of Amparo and Habeas Data.

Essentially what this does is it gives her the right to receive any and all information pertaining to her that the government holds and it holds the government responsible for protecting her and her family from military personal and the national police force, this in turn will give her room to seek a criminal prosecution against the government.

The day in court was tense at some moments and inspiring in others.  Mostly the “Respondents,” (the government lawyers responding to her case) focused on her connections with BAYAN in the Philippines and tried to link her to the New Peoples Army and tag her as a communist sympathizer.  But ultimately their case seemed kind of weak, I was expecting more from the respondents then they gave, but that doesn’t mean she will be granted a Writ of Amparo as the court could possibly swing either way on this case.

At the end of the two hour (or more) session Melissa came out of the courthouse flanked by family, supporters, and the media and she was greeted to the cheers and chants of many of her fellow BAYAN members and supporters.

Melissa Roxas (center, in black) takes pictures with some of her fellow organizers and supporters outside of the Court of Appeals after her hearing (Photo by Jack Stephens)

Melissa Roxas (center, in black) takes pictures with some of her fellow organizers and supporters outside of the Court of Appeals after her hearing (Photo by Jack Stephens)

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