SURFACE JAMES M. BALAO NOW!
The CORDILLERA PEOPLES ALLIANCE urgently demands that those responsible
for the enforced disappearance of JAMES M. BALAO should immediately and
unconditionally surface him. We are specifically calling on the military
intelligence units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the
Philippine National Police to surface James. James' surveillance leading
to his abduction was executed only by means of the joint operations of the
military intelligence groups-the Intelligence Security Unit (ISU),
Military Intelligence Group (MIG) and the PNP. Balao is not simply a
missing person but a victim of enforced disappearance, and this is an
urgent issue of the right to life that must be upheld and respected at all
times. We challenge the AFP and PNP that if they truly are defenders of
human rights and are mandated to serve and protect the Filipino people,
they MUST immediately surface James Balao.
Balao is a founding member of the CPA in 1984 and worked in its Research
and Education Commission, extending his services and expertise in this
area in the Cordillera provinces such as in Ifugao. He is the president of
their clan association, the Oclupan Clan Association. He hails from Atok
and La Trinidad in Benguet. Balao is the second victim of enforced
disappearance in the CPA, with Ama Daniel Ngayaan who was first abducted
in October 1987 in Pasil, Kalinga. Balao was first arrested in 1988 for
allegedly possessing "subversive" documents. The case was dismissed due to
lack of evidence.
Intensified Surveillance and Harassment Towards Extrajudicial Killings
Balao's enforced disappearance is not an isolated incident. It is part of
a systematic and desperate move of the State against members and officers
of the CPA in its "counter-terrorism and anti-insurgency" campaign. The
ultimate end-all of being unjustly branded as a "communist front" or
"terrorist" is surveillance and harassment towards extrajudicial killings.
In recent months, our members, including innocent civilians, became
victims to the state terror unleashed thru the Oplan Bantay Laya. Through
the OBL, the Arroyo regime has mercilessly claimed the lives of CPA
members Markus Bangit and Alyce Claver in June and July 2006, and nearly,
the life of Dr. Chandu Claver.
In November 2007, human rights worker Vangie Tadeo from the CPA-Abra
chapter was abducted and it was very fortunate that Vangie escaped from
her abductors. In March 2008, a youth member of our cultural member
organization was abducted. She was surfaced after four days when her
captors could not probably get anything from her. She was severely
interrogated and remains in trauma. In their massive military operations
in Tubo, Abra last March 2008, the 50th IB killed 60-year old
farmer-hinter Mariano Galisen. In April and June 2008, elements of the
77th and 21st IBs mercilessly gunned down farmer-hunters Rey Logao and
Rocky Aboli, both of Lubuagan, Kalinga, in what the military senselessly
calls a "legitimate encounter with the NPA". The circumstances of their
deaths show that they are innocent civilians merely attending to their
daily routine of farming. If the military can commit such a gruesome act
to Aboli who is in fact a councilman of Upper Uma barangay, the ordinary
civilians are also subject to the AFP's mad terror tagging. The 5th
Infantry Division has in fact manufactured a list of 25 alleged NPA
surrenderees that includes names of civilians like Max Liyang Finmon-as of
Tonglayan, Natonin, Mt. Province. The barangay officials immediately
issued a resolution, also signed by Natonin Mayor Ana Rafael Banaag and
the Natonin PNP Chief Eusebio Aclupen, stating that Finmon-as is NOT an
NPA but a local resident whom they know.
Undaunted vigilance is very necessary at these crucial times. The regime
is desperate in its attempt to prove that it is successful in quelling the
revolutionary NPA, because it cannot. That is why it is manufacturing a
list of NPAs which are actually innocent civilians and carries on
attacking legitimate people's organizations like the CPA.
The surveillance never stopped, and now, with James' enforced
disappearance, more suspicious looking drivers, taxi cabs and private
vehicles have been parking near the CPA regional office and its network of
organizations. The extrajudicial killings came to a lull in 2007 as a
result of the sustained multi-level pressure at the extremely isolated
Arroyo regime and its OBL, and while the regime underwent review for its
human rights record in the Universal Periodic Review. The Philippine
government's report to the UPR contained barefaced lies and half truths
about the real human rights situation in the country, claiming credit for
the decrease in the number of extrajudicial killings and enforced
disappearances through supposed "measures" undertaken by the Philippine
Defy State Terror!
Once an innocent civilian or a
member of a legitimate people's organization such as the CPA is labeled as
a front organization of the CPP, an NPA supporter or a terrorist, that is
already laying the ground towards surveillance, harassment and
extrajudicial killing or enforced disappearance. In James' case, let the
public know that an AFP dossier has actually tagged James an alleged
position as head of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Education
Bureau in the Ilocos and Cordillera regions. This is outrageous and an
outright desperate attempt of the AFP to claim that indeed, the State's
"counter-insurgency" is yielding positive results!
We challenge the AFP and PNP
to immediately and unconditionally surface James Balao. Each day that you,
the PNP and AFP remain silent and indifferent to the enforced
disappearance of James only validates further your accountability in his
We, along with the Balao family, appeal to the public for support in our
effort to have James immediately surfaced. This is our task as Filipino
citizens to always uphold and protect the right to life and not deny it to
A State that violates basic human rights and brazenly denies the right to
life must not be tolerated. We will not tolerate each passing day with
passivity nor will we tolerate the impunity bred in this fascist regime.
We will heighten our vigilance and most especially, resist and defy state
terrorism. We will not be lameducks waiting for prolonged surveillance and
harassment and the next extrajudicial killing. We will resist all forms of
state terror and if necessary, through self defense as an assertion of our
rights to life and self determination!
SURFACE JAMES BALAO NOW!
RESIST AND DEFY STATE TERRORISM!
CORDILLERA PEOPLES ALLIANCE
Chairperson, Cordillera Peoples Alliance
BALAO FAMILY LETTER SENT TO
THE COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
22 September 2008
Hon. Leila De Lima
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Commonwealth Ave. Diliman,
Dear Honorable Leila De Lima:
James had been missing since Sept. 17, 2008. Today is the fifth day of his
unexplained disappearance - the fifth agonizing day of waiting for our
family. We are a family gripped with absolute fear. Each passing moment
without knowledge of our James' whereabouts makes us more hopeless.
James is the eldest of our four children and was born in April 10, 1961.
He has remained single into his late 40's as a result of his dedication to
his work. For James, his service to the people has always come first. But
regardless of his status, he has always been a family man. His desire to
serve extended as well to his clan and James has always been a pillar
upholding our family.
In 1981, James, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from
the University of the Philippines (UP) Baguio. In college, he was the
Editor-in-Chief of Outcrop, the UP Baguio campus newspaper. After
graduation he worked as a research staff for the Cordillera Studies Group
(CSG), based in Easter School (1981-1984), then as a staff of Pons
Benagen, a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission. James was
especially involved in the drafting of the provisions on indigenous
peoples rights in the 1986 Constitution.
James was one of the founding members of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance
(CPA) in June of 1984. Prior to that, James had been working as a research
staff of the Cordillera Resource Center (CRC). An expert in research,
James subsequently worked as member of the CPA's Research and Education
Commission as a researcher and trainer until 1993. Between 1994 and 1997
he was based in Ifugao, first with the Ifugao Research and Development
Center and later with the Ifugao Leaders Forum. He has frequently extended
his research and training skills to CPA member organizations in other
provinces. James has significantly contributed to the CPA's research in
particular on the issues of tribal war, agricultural liberalization and
ancestral land. As an active member of the CPA, James makes it a point to
attend the CPA's Annual Cordillera Day celebration such as in Tocucan, Mt.
Province (2004) and Baguio City (2007). At present, he is the president of
the Oclupan Clan Association.
In his work with the clan
association James has played an even more important role in our family. He
was tasked with looking into the registration and documentation of clan
properties. He has also served as a mediator in clan and tribal conflicts.
His selfless willingness to use his education and skills in the service of
his family and his people has greatly contributed to the Cordillera's
collectivity and connectivity.
James's sudden absence is extremely alarming. Starting the first week of
June this year, James and the rest of our family have been under regular
surveillance by unidentified people. Vehicles with heavily tinted windows
have been regularly seen tailing him and us from our residence to wherever
we went during the day. We believe that his years with the legal
progressive people's movement has made James the target of state
We absolutely fear for his safety and for his life.
We humbly ask your attention, and request your services. Your assistance
in immediately locating James is vital to his survival. If he is still in
captivity, we believe that his captors will release him, knowing that you
have interceded in this delicate situation. If he is being mistreated, we
hope that his captors will cease their actions and spare him anymore harm,
knowing that the Commission on Human Rights is behind us.
Please help us find James. We, Arthur and Jane, parents of James, Nonette
his younger sister, Winston his brother, and Joni the youngest of the
family, will exhaust all efforts and resources to locate our James.
Together with his colleagues, all the people he has helped and supported
in his life, all the clans and tribes he has been a part of we are calling
on you to join our search. We will all be lost unless James is found. We
fear that the more time we spend searching the less time he will have. We
will not cease until we find our James.
We will not lose hope or faith. Please help us find James Balao.
With utmost respect,
The Balao Family
and the people of the Cordillera