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October 10, 2008

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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. #


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