Melissa Roxas’s simple and matter-of-a-fact affidavit recounting her abduction, torture, and eventual release by the Philippine military deserves to become one of the key primary sources on the Arroyo presidency.
I had to keep reminding myself that this was not a story from Argentina’s “dirty war” or Pinochet’s Chile, but of an event that happened a few weeks go and a few miles from where I sit. For all I know something similar is going on as you read this. As the recent Inquirer retrospective on Arroyo’s presidency pointed out, military abuses and a culture of impunity have been a hallmark of her rule.
The affidavit is only 5 pages, here is an extract:
22. I was brought back to my cell blindfolded again and handcuffed at the front and I was made to lie down and after a short while, the iron barred doors were banged making clanking sound and I was taken aback and two men entered my cell with one of the man calling the other, “Tatay”, and a man pulled my cuffed hands up raising me on a sitting position and then a fist struck me at my upper sternum and it hurt and then a thumb was pressed strongly to my throat (I heard somebody saying “huh!...huh…huh.”) choking me, making me suffocate for quite a time and when he released the pressure I gagged and I coughed and then he struck me with his fist on my left jaw ringing my ears and numbing my jaw and they were telling me, “Ang tigas ng ulo mo. Sasagot ka na sa mga tanong.” He kept repeating the questions and his pressure on my throat and fists to my jaw. An hour after, they left. But before they left, he said, “matigas ‘to. Barilin na lang natin” and I prepared for the worst;
23. It must have been very late night or early dawn, when he came back to me and he dragged me to the first room and I sensed that there was a kind of leader of the group who kept on whispering on that person who was manhandling me and two other men and the man who got me from my cell asked me, “handa ka bang mamatay?” and I answered, “Opo” and then he told me, “bago namin patayin ang isang tao, mapapaihi at mapapatae muna namin siya”;
24. The whispering man kept whispering questions to be asked and the manhandling man kept asking the questions and I told him that I have rights and that I was demanding for my lawyer but when he asked me about my name, I told them but when they asked other questions, I did not answer and he would hit me on the chest strongly and I would lose breath and gasped for air after and then he would press my throat with his thumb and say “Huh…huh…huh!” and I would gag and then he would hit me on my jaws, ringing my ears and numbing my jaws and he repeated this and added another one by holding my head with his two hands and banging the back of my head repeatedly and each time it hit the wall, I would see a flash of white bright light and ringing in my ears and again the pressure to my throat with the “Huh … huh…huh.” And saying to me, “ayaw mo pa din magsasalita” and then punched me in my rib cage and I crumpled …