KIN OF MISSING IGOROT
ACTIVIST TAKES MABTAD! CALL TO CONGRESS
In Cordillera, a "mabtad" is declared
in times of emergency, such as when a tribe member disappears, to
prompt community mobilization. The family of missing Igorot activist
James Balao today echoed the indigenous call in the House of Representatives
as militant lawmakers filed a resolution seeking a congressional
probe into the disappearance.
"Each passing moment without knowledge of
our James' whereabouts is agonizing. Please help us find him,"
lamented the desaparecidos' younger sister Nonette Balao, who was
accompanied to the Batasan Complex by the Cordillera Peoples Alliance,
Manila-based indigenous group TAKDER, and human rights groups Desaparecidos
and Indigenous Peoples' Rights Monitor.
In a letter to legislators, Balao's seventy seven
year-old father pleaded Congress "to give more pressure to
surface my son soonest so we, as a family, will all be together
this coming Christmas."
The progressive party list bloc in the House of
Representatives composed of lawmakers from Bayan Muna, Gabriela
Women's Party and Anakpawis welcomed Balao's family and colleagues,
expressing solidarity with them in their unremitting quest for justice.
House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Representative
Satur Ocampo and the other progressive lawmakers had earlier filed
the Anti-Enforced Disappearance and Anti-Torture Bills.
Meanwhile, Cordillera Peoples Alliance Chairperson
Beverly Longid urged Cordillera lawmakers to support the resolution
filed by the progressive bloc.
"We call upon our kakailian (villagemates)
in Congress to support efforts to immediately surface our Ibaloi
and Kankana-ey brother. Isakit ti kailyan (defend, protect and empathize
with your fellow Igorots)."
The Cordillera solons are Congressmen Manuel Agyao
(Kalinga and Mountain Province), Elias Bulut (Apayao), Solomon Chungalao
(Ifugao), Samuel Dangwa (Benguet), Cecilia Seares-Luna (Abra) and
Mauricio Domogan (Baguio City).
"President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has Igorot
blood on her hands. Under her regime, many of our kakailian have
been martyred while defending their ancestral land and self-determination.
Help save Jame's life from the punitive handiwork of state terrorism
and national oppression," added Longid.
Balao, a founding member of the Cordillera Peoples
Alliance and President of the Oclupan Clan Association of Benguet
was abducted by armed men suspected to be elements of state security
forces on September 17, 2008 in Lower Tomay, Benguet.
He is the first documented indigenous victim of
enforced disappearance under the Arroyo administration according
to the Indigenous Peoples Rights Monitor. The human rights watchdog
KARAPATAN has documented about two hundred cases of enforced disappearances
in the country since 2001. #