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September 29, 2008

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James Balao, a founding member of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) is missing since September 17. His family, friends and colleagues have searched long-enough to find him. The agony lingers, the emotion heightens.

James Balao is a victim of enforced disappearance, which by definition is state perpetrated. This is based on his long time involvement to the CPA, an organization branded as left-leaning and critical to government. James is the first case of enforced disappearance in the Cordillera. According to a national alliance for human rights KARAPATAN, there are 199 cases of enforced disappearances under the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration. The three recent cases of enforced disappearances in the country happened in a span of less than a week, 2 cases immediately preceded the disappearance of James, in September 20 and 21. The victims are peasant organizers in Bataan.

We are outraged with the waves of enforced disappearances in the country. This alarming reality directly undermines the sanctity and integrity of life. The darkness gripping their victims and the sufferings of their families and loved-ones could not be captured by words. It is brutal with the victims frequently tortured and in constant fear for their lives. Often, the captors of the enforcedly disappeared (desaparacidos) never release them and their fate remains unknown. This must stop!

We hold the present administration accountable for the enforced disappearance of James Balao and to the many victims of human rights violations in the country under an undeclared martial law. Extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, political harassments and persecutions that are widely happening under this regime are glaring evidences of injustices. These acts must be condemned!

It is necessary for us to challenge the state and all its instrumentalities to surface James Balao unconditionally and immediately. We cannot be blind to gross violations of human rights and turn deaf to the people's cry.

The Interfaith Gathering for Truth and Accountability condemns in strongest terms the state perpetrated disappearance of James Balao. We support the call of his family, friends and colleagues for him to be surfaced immediately. We appeal to the public to be one with us in a sustained effort to fight enforced disappearances alongside with other forms of human rights violations. We demand no less than justice!

Stop Enforced Disappearances! Surface James Balao Now!

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me.
To bring good news to the poor
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind
To let the oppressed go free. To proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
Luke 4:16-21

September 29, 2008

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