Picket rallies for the surfacing of James Balao

People's Park, Baguio City  and NICA HQ, Quezon City

 

October 17,  2008

 

 

   
 

Picket at the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), QC

October 17, 2008

Picket at the People's Park in Baguio City

October 17, 2008

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Photos courtesy of Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA)

http://www.cpaphils.org

View Sept. 27 posting on James Balao

View Oct 10 posting on James Balao

Visit the Surface James Balao website

 

           

 

Cordillera Human Rights Alliance
#10 Rimando Road, Baguio City 2600
Email: chra@cpaphils.org
Telefax: 074-445 2586

October 10, 2008

The Burden of Proof Lies With the AFP

The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance condemns as disgraceful and deceitful the statements made today by the Armed Forces of the Philippines(AFP) 11th Civil Relations Unit (CRU) about the disappearance of James Balao. The statement saying that James’ enforced disappearance “is but a propaganda to attract media attention and collateral attack upon the government…” trivializes the disappearance of James and chastises the Balao family, the CPA and the CHRA for their continued questioning of the AFP and PNP about their involvement. The disdainful tone of this statement shows a complete lack of respect for the parties involved in the search for James Balao. The statements and conduct of the AFP in relation to the disappearance of James has so far been nothing but insensitive and unprofessional. This is appalling coming from an institution whose supposed purpose is to protect the citizens of the Philippines.

Our attempts to search the local and regional AFP and PNP camps for James have been met with defensive refusal. When searches have been allowed, as what has happened last October 3 at the 50th IB in San Juan, Ilocos Sur, they have been of very limited areas of the military property.

On Wednesday morning when the groups attempted to search the Military Intelligence Group (MIG) Office at Camp Allen, after they were informed that a person had been secreted into the camp overnight, even the delegates from the Commission on Human Rights(CHR) were strongly denied access. If the AFP was really intent on settling this issue, as they claim, then why are they not even willing to cooperate with the state run human rights monitor?

Today's statement made by the AFP is actually a rehash of the state security forces' position on all of the cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances since 2001. This denial has been cited and criticized strongly in a report made by UN Rapporteur Philip Alston after his visit to the Philippines last February 2007. The military continues to deny their involvement in the disappearance of James, as they have previously denied their involvement in the disappearances of Jonas Burgos, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno. In 2007, the AFP spent months denying that they had any knowledge about abduction or whereabouts of the two UP students. The Manalo brothers who were able to escape from the military safehouse came forward and testified that the AFP had not only been the perpetrators of the abductions and their illegal detention, but also had perpetrated heavy torture on the women. This evidence has made any attempt by the state security forces to claim that they are not responsible for the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of activists unbelievable.

The burden of proof that the AFP had no hand in the enforced disappearance of James Balao lies with them.

If the AFP is sincere in their assertion that they do not have James in their custody, we demand that they refrain from releasing irresponsible statements and instead focus on sincerely assisting in the search for James.

Until we get no sincere and truthful response from them, we continue to hold the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police accountable for the enforced disappearance of James Balao. The motive, circumstances and information leading to his enforced disappearances and their policy Operation Plan Bantay Laya II points to them as the perpetrators.

We further call on the public to continuously join us in the search for James and to denounce the impunity for the human rights abuses of the AFP which has been a hallmark of this regime and is frighteningly reminiscent of martial law.#

For reference:

Jude Baggo
Secretary General
Cordillera Human Rights Alliance
 

Picket at the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), QC

October 17, 2008

     
     
     
     

◄  Visit the Surface James Balao website at this llink:

http://sites.google.com/site/surfacejamesbalao/

◄  Sign Petition
     

 

Cordilla Peoples Alliance:

 

We challenge the AFP, PNP to Surface James Moy Balao Now!

It is outright revolting and brazenly irresponsible and arrogant of the Armed Forces of the Philippines particularly its 11th Civil Relations Unit based in Camp Allen Baguio City under LTJG Thomas Yu-ing to make snide and malicious statements on the enforced disappearance of James Balao, a founding member of the CORDILLERA PEOPLES ALLIANCE and Clan President of the OCLUPAN Clan Association. The AFP still has the temerity to claim it is a defender of human rights, when, since day one of James' enforced disappearance, it has done nothing to really search for James and investigate his enforced disappearance including the absence of any categorical response as to James' whereabouts. The burden of proof remains with the AFP and PNP to prove that it had no hand in James' enforced disappearance.

The CPA, the Balao Family and the many supporters of the call to surface James immediately and unconditionally deserve better answers from the AFP. Not the inutile kind of response and very poorly written and grammatically erroneous press release to trivialize James' abduction and enforced disappearance by saying that the CPA is merely playing this up simply for "propaganda to attract media attention and collateral attack upon the government…" and even disrespectfully and loosely comment "Who is James Balao anyway?". Our concern is the life of James-that he be surfaced alive. THAT is NOT propaganda.

James Balao is a Filipino citizen the AFP and PNP are mandated to serve and protect. James is a Filipino citizen, a respected Kankanaey-Ibaloi indigenous leader entitled to his basic rights to life, security and due process. James Balao is a human being, not a lower life form you point guns at, handcuff, immobilize, drag and force in a waiting car and call a drug pusher while he repeatedly shouted "Ibaga yo no ania ti basol ko." Do not insult the Balao Family and its clans, the CPA, and the vast supporters internationally such as Amnesty International and the United Church of Canada calling for James' surfacing by diverting the crux of the matter of James' abduction. Do not insult the Baguio City Council, the ►

 

 

 

Sangguniang Bayan of La Trinidad, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and respected elders of Benguet who have stood up denouncing James' enforced disappearance and calling on you the AFP and the PNP to investigate. Your inaction as to James' case shows then that the rest of the Cordillera people, the Filipino people cannot rely on you in such a life and death situation because that is your standard attitude and response, as it was with the documented cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances nationwide. The unacceptable attitude of the CRU and the MIG in that situation only says that indeed they are the perpetrators. That is the kind of AFP there is in this country.

What the AFP should be telling the public is it will surface James now. But it does not, except for statements to excuse itself from its responsibilities, its silence and inaction on the issue. Our efforts to search military camps and offices locally, in Ilocos Sur and Abra were only met with constant refusal or denial. The CRU had even shown disrespect to the representatives of the Commission on Human Rights-CAR who were with the Balao Family and the CPA in Camp Allen last October 8, when the camp had refused us to search for James therein. There was even a heated argument because the CRU and the Military Intelligence Group (MIG) therein badmouthed the CHR, when in fact the CHR is also a government body mandated to investigate human rights violations especially those committed by the AFP and PNP.

There should be no room in the AFP for such slapstick and unprofessionalism as displayed by the MIG in Camp Allen and the CRS under LTJG Yu-ing-they must be sanctioned accordingly and even be fired. The AFP is the perpetrator yet it affords to display cheap and unprofessional talk and is very insincere and disrespectful in front of the family of the victim.

We challenge the AFP- surface James alive now. If James has committed any crime at all, surface him, charge him in court. If you truly are defenders of human rights, surface James Balao now. #

 

 

           

■   Letter of the Governor of Ifugao for the Surface James Balao campaign

 

■   Resolution of the Commission on Human Rights strongly condemning the enforced disappearance of James Balao

 

■   CPA, Balao family laud Baguio City Council Resolution supporting the serach for James Balao and to condemn his involuntary disappearance

 

■   "Surface James Balao1"- Letter of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines

 

 

 

Download above letter in pdf format

 

           
           
PICKET RALLY AT  THE PEOPLE'S PARK IN BAGUIO CITY
     
     
     

 

Cordillera Human Rights Alliance
#10 Rimando Road, Baguio City 2600
Email: chra@cpaphils.org
Telefax: 074-445 2586

Family and Organizations Seek Information about James Balao Enforced Disappearance in Lower Tomay

The deceptive actions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines have forced the Balao Family, the CPA and the CHRA to defend the character of James Balao as they continue their search.

On Tuesday, October 6, a thirteen-vehicle caravan traveled from Baguio City to Lower Tomay, La Trinidad after witnesses came forward over the weekend with information about the abduction. Up until now all that had been known was that James had been abducted somewhere between Quezon Hill, Baguio City and La Trinidad, Benguet, enroute to his family residence. The witnesses confirmed that James was forced into a vehicle by 5 military looking men dressed in civilians at approximately 8am, while walking in front of the St. Therese Church and School in Lower Tomay. The witnesses also said that the onlookers were told that these men were police officers and that this procedure was normal because James was a drug pusher. This lie had kept the witnesses from coming forward sooner. It is feared that other witnesses with vital information that could help force the surfacing of James may not be coming forward for the same reason.

The caravan, made up of members of the Balao family, the CPA, CHRA and other progressive sectors, went to the area to inform the people about the reality of James disappearance and call other possible witnesses to come forward. The caravan arrived in front of the St. Therese church at approximately 8am, the same time as the enforced disappearance on September 17. A program was held in front of the church and information materials were handed out along the busy
 

 

stretch of highway, indicating the real nature of James' work and his history as an activist. “It is important that other people who may have witnessed the abduction of James know that he was a respected member of the community and was not a drug pusher, that he was never involved in any criminal behavior,” said Jude Baggo, the Secretary General of the CHRA and a speaker at the program.“The actions of the officers who forced James into their vehicle were illegal, and their deception about James's person where disgraceful and an affront to his family and the Oclupan clan. “
 

The Sunday before the caravan, Bishop Carlito Cenzon of the Diocese of Baguio-Benguet held a mass at the St. Therese Church and School for the occasion of the St. Therese fiesta. In his sermon, Bishop Cenzon, supporting the Balao family, condemned the campaign of state terrorism that led to the enforced disappearance of James and called on other witnesses to the abduction to come forward. “All of the information we can gather is important in our search for James,” said Baggo. “This is especially since the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police are working so hard to hide information and misdirect our search; going so far as to lie to witnesses about the abduction and then to lie to the Balao family about their involvement in the enforced disappearance of James,” he continued.

The CPA and CHRA has also received commitments of the Barangay Council, the Parish Priest of St. Therese and the teachers at the school to disseminate the real information about James' person and the abduction and to encourage witnesses to come forward. #

For Reference:

Jude Baggo
Secretary General
Cordillera Human Rights Alliance
tel: 445-2586

 

           

 

 

UPDATE REPORT ON JAMES BALAO

October 13, 2008

Dear Friends:

Mr. Art Balao, the father of James has written a letter of thanks. I quote in part: “I wish to express my deep appreciation and thanks to all who in one way or the other contributed to find James. In behalf of my family, I thank you all so much. My family miss him and am sure his many friends, relatives and the many people he has touched, loved and helped miss him too.”

Today is the 26th day of the enforced disappearance of James. However, let us not lose strength in our continuing efforts to surface James. Let us not lose courage as we demand and bring to justice the Intelligence Security Unit (ISU)-Military Intelligence Group (MIG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other State units that conspired to this dastardly act.

This is the second update letter on our continuing efforts for the immediate and unconditional surfacing of James. We issued the first update letter last October 3.

While we have yet to find out the exact location and condition of James, through the help of friends and concerned individuals, sometime October 3, we were able to know of the place and account of his disappearance, as follows:

On the morning of 17 September, at around 8:00 in Lower Tomay, La Trinidad, five (5) unidentified elements of the military excluding the driver, riding on a white vehicle that looks like a Mitsubishi Adventure or Revo swooped on him and forcibly took him.

One immediately cuffed his hands as he cried, “Saludsuden yo man dagitoy nu ania ti basol ko? (Please ask them what wrong have I done?) Another, to prevent him from saying more, locked the jaws of James with his arms while two others violently pointed their guns at his sides, to prevent him from resisting, then they hurriedly shoved him into the car. The remaining one waved his automatic rifle at the shocked onlookers as he warned them not to interfere. He shouted “Pulis kami! Huwag kayong maki-alam! Drug pusher eto!” (We are the police! Do not interfere! He is a drug pusher!) Then he rode the vehicle and within hearing stated: “Diretso sa Camp Dangwa” (Proceed to Camp Dangwa.)

Aside from these five men, at least three (3) served as lookouts.

The accounts of many witnesses and sources have also validated our record that James has indeed been under surveillance.

On the same date, acting on information that the military units of Ilocos Sur specifically the 50th Infantry Battalion Philippine Army (IBPA) may have James in custody, the family, friends, the CPA and the CHRA (Cordillera Human Rights Alliance), immediately traveled to Ilocos Sur. We did not take the information lightly because we know that the same IBPA was involved in the extra-judicial killings of activists Romy Sanchez in 9 March, Pepe Manegdeg in 29 November and Albert Terradano in 30 November, all in 2005. In the case of Pepe Manegdeg, eyewitnesses specifically pointed as the killer Sgt. Joel Castro of the 50th IBPA.

Through the intercession of Governor Deogracias Victor B. Savellano, the family and the CPA had a dialogue with the 50th IBPA. Unfortunately, the military representatives Lt. Ruben Tambio and Sgt. Marcelo Garcia did not make any categorical denial as to their involvement in the disappearance of James or a clear commitment of their assistance to surface James. On negotiation, they allowed a very limited ocular visit of the 50th IBPA headquarters in San Juan, Ilocos Sur, to 4 members of the family and 2 representatives of the CPA, and disallowing taking of photographs.

On initiative of the PRO-CAR, the family, the CPA and the CHRA held a dialogue with the police regional directorate, on October 6, after a short program in Lower Tomay, where James was forcibly taken, appealing to the residents therein for further assistance and cooperation. Present during the said dialogue were the Regional Director, Gen. Eugene Martin, the Benguet Provincial Director, Col. Danilo Pelisco, the La Trinidad and Baguio City Police Directors, Cols. Mario Mayam-es and Jesus Franco, respectively, and other police officers. During the dialogue, as a sign of our good faith and willingness to cooperate with the police, we narrated to them the information as to account of the incident and what we gathered, of which the police had no knowledge. We also informed them that there are witnesses. The place of incident is just a few meters away from Camp Dangwa, the regional headquarters of the PNP in the Cordillera.

In the said dialogue, the PNP directorate agreed to double their investigation efforts, provide custody and security for the possible witnesses, greater police visibility in the place of incident to prevent possible attacks and harassment from the perpetrators, and transparency with the family and with the CPA.

The following day, we revisited the MIG office in Camp Allen, Baguio City. This we formally coordinated with the Police Regional Office-Cordillera Administrative Region (PRO-CAR) and the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO). Unexplainably, the MIG disallowed our entry to the said Camp but on negotiation allowed entry to the City Police Director, Col. Jesus Franco. The MIG coldly ignored our pleas to allow just the father of James, who was already in the premises as early as 6:30 in the morning, to accompany the Police City Director to enter the MIG compound. In fact, the MIG permitted Col. Franco to enter ONLY when Mr. Balao agreed to the demand of the MIG to move away from where he was waiting simply because he can see the vehicles entering and leaving the MIG compound.

Thereafter, LTJG Thomas Yu-ing, the head of the 11th Community Relations Unit (CRU) of the AFP whose office is just beside the MIG, invited Mr. Art Balao for a discussion. In the said meeting, he offered his assistance in investigating the case of James. Such deception and trickery! As he issued on the same day a very poorly written and grammatically erroneous press release that trivialized James' abduction and enforced disappearance by saying that the CPA is merely playing this up simply for "propaganda to attract media attention and collateral attack upon the government…" and even disrespectfully and loosely comment "Who is James Balao anyway?" Our concern is the life of James, that he be surfaced alive and THAT is NOT propaganda.

The regional office of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in response to an earlier letter from the Balao family and succeeding requests for their immediate action on the disappearance of James, on the same day, proceeded with a team of investigators to the MIG office for inspection. However, the MIG elements treated them with grave hostility; shouting at them and even cocking their guns at the investigators. In paranoia and sign of guilt, the MIG hiding behind the gates, only showed their faces but disguised themselves in baseball caps, dark and wide-rimmed sunglasses, and handkerchief covering their mouth. The CHR investigating team also failed to enter the MIG compound.

On 9 October 2008, the family (his father Art Balao, younger sisters Nonette Balao and Jonilyn Balao-Strugar, and brother Winston Balao,) and I as Chairperson of the CPA filed a Writ of Amparo with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Benguet. The petitioners pray that the Court “(a) issue a Writ of Amparo ordering the respondents to disclose where James Balao is detained or confined, (b) to release James Balao considering his unlawful detention and (c) to cease and desist from further inflicting harm upon his person.”

The petition also prays for an inspection order “to permit the entry of authorized persons for the purpose of inspecting, measuring, surveying and photographing the property or any relevant object or operation thereon” of police and military facilities not limited to the Camps Aguinaldo and Crame in Quezon City, Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City, the 50th IBPA in San Juan, Ilocos Sur, MIG in Camp Allen, Baguio City, and ISU in Navy Base, Baguio City. The respondents are Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as President of the Republic of the Philippines (RP) and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Eduardo Ermita as the Executive Secretary of the RP, Gilberto Teodoro as the Secretary of the Department of National Defense, Ronaldo Puno as the Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Norberto Gonzales as the National Security Adviser, Lt. Gen. Alexander Yano as Chief of Staff of the AFP, Gen. Jesus Versoza as the PNP Chief, Brig. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu as Chief of the PA, Maj. Gen. Isagani Cachuela as the Commanding General of the AFP Northern Luzon Command, the Commanding Officer of the AFP ISU and PCS Eugene Martin as the Regional Director of PRO-CAR.

On raffle, the RTC 63 under Judge Benigno Galacgac shall hear the Writ. The sheriff has already served a copy of the Writ and Notice of Hearing with the respondents, except the ISU as the personnel therein refused to receive the document. The said Court has set the first hearing on the 16th.

Widespread support continues to pour in.

On 6 October, responding to the plea of the Balao family who addressed their session, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Benguet (Provincial Board) approved unanimously a resolution CONDEMNING THE ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE OF JAMES BALAO, FOUNDING MEMBER OF THE CPA, AND CALLING FOR THE IMMEDIATE SURFACING AND RELEASE OF MR. JAMES BALAO BY HIS CAPTORS. The said resolution further states that “enforced disappearances is contrary to the customs and traditions of the Benguet indigenous peoples that advocate peace.” The Sangguniang Bayan (Municipal Council) of La Trinidad also issued a similar resolution after. Earlier, Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan wrote the Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo through Secretary Gilbert Teodoro for her “intercession in locating the whereabouts of Mr. James Balao.”

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) national office on October 10 issued resolution A2008-035 approved en banc “STRONGLY CONDEMNING THE ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE OF JAMES BALAO, CONTINUING THE INVESTIGATION THROUGH THE CAR REGIONAL OFFICE, AND REQUESTING THE AFP AND PNP FOR ASSISTANCE.” On the same day, the Governor Maximo Dalog of Mountain Province issued a statement AGAINST ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES. The statement reads in part “As father of the province and as Regional Chairman of the League of Provinces, I denounce the unexplained disappearance of James Balao who is one of us. The act does not only deprive him of his rights but also subjects his family to untold mental and psychological torture. xxx Those responsible, regardless of their position or standing in society, should be held accountable, and made to pay for their acts. Denying or delaying justice would prompt aggrieved parties to take the law into their hands. Worse, the impunity by which the crimes have been committed may institutionalize or promote the commission of the same.”

We have yet to hear from the offices of the National Commission on Indigenous People’s (NCIP) and other concerned government agencies to which we appealed for support and intercession.

Recently, the University of the Philippines Baguio, from where James graduated in college on 1983, published its Statement of Concern in the Baguio Midland Courier; and letters of concern from Filipino Scholars in the United States and Filipinos in Stuttgart, Germany. International support continues with barrage of letters and online petition addressed to the respondents as widespread public condemnation reverberates locally.

Amidst all these, we respond appropriately to continues military propaganda that we are simply on a demolition job against the military specifically the army. Recently, on the disdain statement of the Community Relations Unit of the AFP that James Balao does not merit their attention – a remark that smacks of the army insensitivity and lack of value for the safety and life of James.

Kindly visit our website: www.cpaphils.org for the full text of the above stated resolutions, CPA and CHRA statements, letters of support and/or concern, and a photo documentation of all our efforts. This is the second update letter, we have posted the first in our web site. Again, our heartfelt thank you for your actions and responses.

While we cooperate with the police and certain military officials on the matter of investigation and security assistance – we do not have second thoughts as to demanding the full accountability of the military and the police on the enforced disappearance of James. We shall not also hesitate to break lines of full cooperation with the police when proven of their insincerity and involvement in the same, and when such police and military efforts shall point to a conscious conspiracy and whitewash of the accountability of police and military elements.

Let us not lose strength and courage in our campaign to Surface James Balao and Stop Enforced Disappearances. Instead, let our rage and tears further our resolve to continue working for the immediate and unconditional surfacing of James from his captors.

Respectfully,

BEVERLY L. LONGID Chairperson Cordillera Peoples Alliance

 

Download report  in pdf format

 

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
           

 

STATEMENT OF CONCERN FROM FRIENDS IN STUTTGART, GERMANY

Protest resolution of the demonstration from Monday the 06.10.2008 in Stuttgart - The proposal was adopted unanimously on the "Schlossplatz"

To the president of the The Republic of the Philippines Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, to cognition to the public press / media and pacific organisations and trade unions, to the foreign ministry of the Federal Republic of Germany, to Amnesty International and for other spreading:

Since 17. September 2008 Mr. Jame Balao, an activist of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance/CPA, an organisation in the north of the Philippines which struggles for the protection of the natural environment and the people, basically against the international mining companies and their highly toxic gold mining, has disappeared without a trace - His life is in the highest danger.

If the governments of the world are at a loss then they reach to the most crude means towards the protest of the population and their fight for a relieved and free future appropriate for person. This is in Bolivia and in Germany also the case as well as on the Phlippine. Since accession to power of Mrs. Arroyo are, according to our information more than 800 people are murdered cowardly and dastardly on the streets by gang of muderers mostly operating on motorcycles, approx. 300 people have

 

 

 

 

 

disappeared  since that time without a trace, like James Balao. His family and his friends are deeply concerned about his fate, we, in Germany and in Stuttgart as well.
 

Mrs. President, we would like to say you with all clearness: who attacks one of us, that attacks us all - One for all and all for one! This is our slogan!
 

Stop this national-hostile politics now. We do not allow you to handle thus with the Philippine people and supposed or actual members of the opposition. This is the politics of the American CIA which takes up arbitrarily people and let them disappear in illegal prisons. Once Mr. Marcos and his wife meant, that they are able to kick the current and future interests of the Pilippine people with feet - you know what happened with them! We in Germany know -based on our experiences with the fascism NS- what this terror means against people. Once we swore: not to stop until the causes for such politics are eliminated, worldwide!

Immediate international clarification of the disappearance of James Balao!
Stop this national-hostile politics now!

 

           
           

 

LETTER OF CONCERN FROM FILIPINO SCHOLARS IN THE U.S.:
ON THE ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE OF JAMES BALAO (CORDILLERA PEOPLES’ ALLIANCE)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

We are alarmed and disturbed with the enforced disappearance of Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) member James M. Balao since September 17, 2008. His family has no information of his whereabouts up to this moment. We urgently call for the immediate and unconditional surfacing of James, in the spirit of upholding our basic human rights, very basic of which is the right to life and security which must not be denied to anyone.

His enforced disappearance is being attributed to his work with the legal people’s movement advocating indigenous peoples rights, human rights and social justice. Balao has reported that he was being surveilled since June and this heightened until his disappearance last week. The CPA and the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) point to military intelligence agents as the perpetrators of this violation.

Since the Arroyo government implemented its Operation Plan Bantay Laya in 2001, members and leaders of legal and legitimate people’s organizations such as the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) have been targeted for neutralization by agents of the state and are unjustly labeled as communist fronts and terrorist organizations. Innocent lives have already been claimed as a result of this State policy of political and extrajudicial killings, and Balao is the second case of enforced disappearance to a CPA member or officer, since Ama Daniel Ngayaan was abducted in 1987.

We ask the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines to fully assist the family, the Cordillera Peoples Alliance and the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance in the search for James Balao.

The State policy Oplan Bantay Laya which has labelled legal progressive organizations such as the Cordillera Peoples Alliance as “sectoral fronts” of the Communist Party of the Philippines, National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the New Peoples Army should be immediately terminated. We call on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to sincerely implement the recommendations of United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston - “As Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, the President must take concrete steps to put an end to those aspects of counterinsurgency operations which have led to the targeting and execution of many individuals working with civil society organizations”.

We call on the Philippine Government to observe the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and other international human rights laws and declarations such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

The search for James Balao gets more and more urgent by the minute. He must be immediately and unconditionally surfaced.

Sincerely,

RICK BONUS, Ph.D Associate professor American Ethnic Studies University of Washington

SARITA SEE, Ph.D. Associate Professor University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

CYNTHIA TOLENTINO, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Department of English University of Oregon

RICHARD T. CHU, Ph.D. Five College Assistant Professor History Department University of Massachusetts

SHARON DELMENDO, Ph.D. Professor of English St. John Fisher College Rochester, NY

MARIA HWANG Doctoral student Department of American Civilization Brown University, RI

LUIS H. FRANCIA Faculty Asian/Pacific/American Studies Program New York University

BENITO VERGARA JR., Ph.D. Anthropologist

DYLAN RODRIGUEZ, Ph.D. Associate professor Ethnic Studies University of California, Riverside

JOI BARRIOS, Ph.D. Writer Lecturer for the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies University of California Berkeley

PETER CHUA, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Sociology San Jose State University

FRANCISCO BENITEZ, Ph.D. Assistant professor of Comparative Literature University of Washington

LUCY BURNS, Ph.D. Assistant professor, Asian American Studies University of California Los Angeles

ANTONIO TIONGSON JR., Ph.D. Assistant professor American Cultural Studies Colorado College

And

NERISSA S. BALCE, Ph.D. Assistant professor Department of Asian and Asian American Studies State University of New York at Stony Brook

 

Download statement in pdf format

 

     
     
     
     
     
     
           

 

KALIPUNAN NG MGA KATUTUBONG MAMAMAYAN NG PILIPINAS (KAMP)
National Federation of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in the Philippines

Press Release
October 17, 2008
Reference: Himpad Mangumalas, KAMP Spokesperson (cp # 0910-5406198)
Tyrone Bayer, TAKDER Spokesperson

Indigenous people hit state forces on the disappearance of James Balao

Surfaces James Balao! Justice for the Victim of Enforced Disappearances! This was the call of the indigenous people from and advocates as they held a picket rally in front of National Intelligence Coordinating Agency. The picket rally marks the 1st month of disappearances of James Balao, an indigenous kankana-ey ibaloi from Benguet.

James Balao was a founding member of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), a regional affiliate of Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP).

According to Tyrone Bayer spokesperson of Tignayan Dagiti Agtutubo ti Kordillera para iti Demokrasya ken Rang-ay (TAKDER), “We believe that the disappearance of James Balao is state perpetrated that is why we are calling for the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police to Surface James Balao.”

“On the day he disappeared, witness claims that perpetrator of the abduction declare that Balao is a “drug pusher” and that they are bring him to “Camp Dangwa”. Say Bayer

“The style of the abduction has the signature of the armed agents of state. This was the same style used in the abduction of other victims of enforced disappearance.” Bayer explained.

 

“Using steel glove against political dissenter and activist has no place in a democratic world. The case of Balao Disappearance is but a manifestation of the continuing effort of the arroyo government to silence the indigenous people who stood up against her the inutile government”. Bayer added
 

“We are calling the military and the police, if they have case against Balao give him a day in the court! That’s how democracy works! But we doubt if they had a case against him! He was a good citizen and a dedicated individual who gave his time and talent to serve his fellow indigenous people”. Followed through Bayer

The disappearance of James Balao is the first case in cordillera under the regime of GMA administration.

According to Himpad Mangumalas, the Higaonon spokesperson of KAMP, “the case of Balao is just a part and parcel of the political repression implemented under the Oplan Bantay Laya, the overall counter-insurgency policy of this regime. The policy aims not only to neutralize armed revolutionary organization and secession group but also legal personality, activist and civilians.”

No less than United Nation Special Rapporteur on Human Rights identified Oplan Bantay Laya the underlying policy beyond rampant human rights violation of the arroyo government.

“The political repression of the state against the rank of the indigenous people is a nationwide phenomenon. Indigenous people everywhere who stood up against plunder of their ancestral land taste the bitter side of the government.” Say Mangumalas.

“Pres. Arroyo and the cleric-fascist Norberto Gonzales and their institutionalize policy repression and oppression has cut off hundred of lives of our fellow tribesman and innocent civilian.” Further explain. Mangumalas

“The political repression, enforced disappearance and other form of human rights violation of this regime symbolizes the irrationality of the government-sponsored terror we have already seen and felt for many years now” Mangumalas Ended.###

 

           

 

 
 

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