SURFACE JAMES M. BALAO
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
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
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 government.
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 disappearance.
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 anyone.
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