By Carlito Pablo
Publish Date: August 13, 2009
Faint from the torture inflicted on her, the terrified young woman was taunted by one of her tormentors.
“Do you think the Canadian government can do anything for you?” the man said. He called her “Maita”.
But her name wasn’t Maita. Nor was she a Canadian.
The woman was Melissa Roxas, an American citizen visiting the Philippines, the birthplace of her parents. An aspiring artist based in California, she was gathering material for a writing project when she and two companions were abducted in the town of La Paz in Tarlac, a province 120 kilometres north of Manila, on May 19. (PHOTO: Melissa Roxas talks to supporters when she returns to Manila to demand justice)
Taken to what she believed was a military camp and accused of being a communist rebel, Roxas was repeatedly beaten, choked, and threatened with execution. At one time, plastic bags were pulled down over her face and secured around her neck until she started suffocating. She was released six days later, on May 25.
Who is Maita, and was Roxas’s abduction a case of mistaken identity? Is there a Canadian connection to this case?
Migrante International, a Philippines-based group critical of the labour-export policies of the government there, believes that the target of Roxas’s abductors may have been its former secretary general Maita Santiago, of Vancouver.
Santiago ran for Vancouver city council in 1993, on the slate of then–Coalition of Progressive Electors mayoral candidate and now NDP Vancouver East MP Libby Davies.
Santiago and her family arrived in Canada in 1977, when she was a young child. She moved back to Manila in 1999 and was Migrante’s secretary general from 2002 to 2008. She returned to Vancouver last year.
She is currently the constituency assistant of NDP Vancouver-Kensington MLA Mable Elmore.
Read rest of article at: Philippine kidnapping case has Vancouver link
Also see Bayan Canada statement: There are many Melissas and Maitas